The new Fantastic Beasts movie, if you can call them that anymore, has been released in theaters and I went back and watched the previous two if preparation. This serves as the first of the three reviews needed to catch up on these films. You can currently watch Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them on HBO Max.
Authored by Doc Comeau on Thursday, April 28th, 2022 at 3:30 PM EST
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Him is the story of Magizoologist Newt Scamander dogging the Wizarding Authorities as he and his new Muggle friend attempt to recapture the magical creatures that have escaped from his magic briefcase. A magical ride filled with romance, fantasy and mythical creatures and an international conspiracy to manipulate the world. First of a few successful attempts at entering the world created by J. K. Rowling.
David Yates Director of the last four Harry Potter films returns to direct this film. Outside Harry Potter he is known for 2016's The Legend of Tarzan. A movie I have to admit I have never heard of and have no interest in watching, but he does manage to bring the magic of the Harry Potter films to this new movie.
Eddie Redmayne joins the Wizarding war as that random name on the Marauder's Map, Newt Scamander. Newt Scamander is a Magizoologist who left Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and wizard to travel the world to learn about, care for and better understand the magical creatures the Wizarding World seem to take for granted. He is on a journey to the United States to release an Endangered and rare magical creature back into its natural habitat.
Katherine Waterston joins Eddie Redmayne and defamed American Auror Tina Goldstein. A young, talented witch desperately trying to get her job back by arresting Newt and getting her and her sister entangled in his journey to study magical beasts. Tina serves as a love story and bridge between the two stories happening in the film. The story of Newt and his beasts and the story of an evil and dark wizard hell bent on manipulating a dark and powerful magical force.
Dan Fogler accompanies Newt on his journey to discover fantastic creatures as Jacob Kowalski. A Muggle or like they are referred to in this film, a No-mag that is pulled into the Wizarding World when he accidentally switches cases with Scamander and sets the whole films primary plot in motion. A character that serves as the audience's surrogate on this magical journey.
Alison Sudol joins the cast as Queenie Goldstein. A young witch with a rare magical ability that keeps her isolated from most of the world most of the time. Queenie is a loved interest in our Muggle Jacob and sister to Auror Tina Goldstein. Queenie is a character that doesn't get much screen time in this film, but does become more important to the overarching villain of the entire series and our surrogate Jacob.
Colin Farrell plays Lord Percival Graves the film's main antagonist of the film. Graves is a fellow Auror in the States alongside Tina and the one responsible for her expulsion from the job. He will stop at nothing to harness the destructive magical force that threatens the City of New York and use it for his own evil purposes.
Ezra Miller plays Credence Barebone, a young orphan in the hate group being investigated by Tina and an informant to Lord Graves in his search for the destructive magical force plaguing the city. Credence is an abused and troubled teen harboring a dark secret he is ashamed of. A dark and powerful secret that threatens to destroy the City.
Rotten Tomatoes Scores
The Tomatometer has this movie sitting at "74%" out of "347 Reviews" and an Audience Score of "79%" out of "50,000+ reviews." A slightly higher than the average score for the first attempt at exploring the rich world Harry Potter brought to us, with the audience likely it slightly more than us critics. I myself didn't write a review there as I am sharing my thoughts here, but the site's Critics Consensus can be found below.
CRITICS CONSENSUS: Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them draws on Harry Potter's rich mythology to deliver a spinoff that dazzles with franchise-building magic all its own.
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is a considerably less than average film. While it's not on the same level as Harry Potter it did capture the joy I felt watching those movies and reading those books as a kid. This film gets a 7.8 out of 10. It's a magical adventure good for the whole family to enjoy.
This film gets a 7.8 out of 10. It's a magical adventure good for the whole family to enjoy. - Doc Comeau
Story and Screenplay
This piece of the film could have been excellent like its predecessors, but it suffered from what I like to call plot overload. Instead of picking one story and running with it, they tacked on a villain that could have begun a trilogy after this film stood alone. I was constantly pulled away from Newt's adventures with his Fantastic Beasts for a plot line that was only meant to tie this movie into another.
Neither plot line was bad and they could have stood alone to make a better Wizarding World story. Newt's journey could have been a stand alone film to introduce some characters that could have been used for the second plot line in a separate and unconnected film. The battle between Dumbledore and Grindlewald should have been its own tale and not tied to a movie about the magical creatures of the world.
I will explain more in the reviews for the next two films in this group of movies, but the Fantastic Beasts have taken a back seat and the tone of the movies has been overshadowed by the Grindlewald/Dumbledore plot line. It kind of pulls you out of the film when you go in expecting a story about Fantastic Beasts and the Beasts are irrelevant to the film's. Especially when they were heavily involved in the plot of this film to include the one that introduces Credence and Grindlewald.
The story of Newt meeting a Muggle friend and the two of them finding love while tracking down his escaped creatures would have been an excellent movie on its own. I had to deduct points for WB tacking on Grindlewald to make the film into multiple connected films instead of separate stand alone films that can be tied together by the Avengers style assemble a movie. Still Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them was an excellent movie and worthy addition to the Harry Potter Universe. I would give this section of the film a 7.5 out of 10. It could have been a 8.5 but got ahead of itself in multiple unnecessary plot points.
Still Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them was an excellent movie and worthy addition to the Harry Potter Universe. I would give this section of the film a 7.5 out of 10. It could have been a 8.5 but got ahead of itself in multiple unnecessary plot points. - Doc Comeau
Performance and Dialogue
This is where this film shined. The performances and dialog were the best part of this film. I know some Uber super fans were sad they were not constantly verbalized the spells they were casting, but as this movie was more for adults than children, despite catering to both it makes sense adults would be more adept at magic. In the Harry Potter books and films the adult wizards didn't always verbalize the magic they wielded.
The chemistry between Newt and Jacob as they develop a friendship on their escapes across New York in search if Newt's Beasts has to be the highlight of the film. You get the sense Newt doesn't open up easily and it's clear he likes Jacob as he could have easily wiped his mind and left him. Jacob being the best performance of the film.
It's clear Jacob is meant to be the Audience's surrogate on the magical adventure to learn about Fantastic Beasts and Dan Fogler kills it. His amusement and enthusiasm over the wonders of the Wizarding World while others act like its normal brings much needed comic relief and sense of joy the movie requires to have you suspend your belief and accept the existence of magic. Without him I believe this film would have failed miserably.
The other performances were also great. Newt and Tina had good chemistry and Queenie was a delight, but the film is too large for me to focus on all of them in this review. Ultimately, despite a good performance by both Collin and Ezra the villains were not needed in this movie and felt tacked on and brought the film down a bit. Despite deducting ten points from Ravenclaw I would give this section of the film an 8 out of 10. The cast worked well together but some of them felt unnecessary and forced in to sell multiple movies.
Despite deducting ten points from Ravenclaw I would give this section of the film an 8 out of 10. The cast worked well together, but some of them felt unnecessary and forced in to sell multiple movies. - Doc Comeau
The Cinematography of this film matches the magic, pun intended, of the original films and even the most ardent fan will most likely greatly enjoy this movie. The Beasts were all excellent examples of the use of CGI. The invisible monkey and the shrinking bird, snakes being the best of the lot, outside the fan favorite shiny obsessed platypus everyone seems to enjoy. Though to me him and Pickett are truly a part of Newt's character rather than external story beasts.
The invisible skidding monkey was my favorite beast in the film. The effects when you could see him or his floating eyes felt seamless and didn't stand out from the rest of the film like crappy CGI is known to do. The sequence where the giant snake bird was wrapped around the inside of the attic was also excellent and felt seamless. Watching it grow so large it squished everything in the room and then recoil and disappear as it slowly shrunk down to fill the teapot was amusing and entertaining.
Speaking of fitting more on the inside than appears to the naked eye, the inside of Newt's briefcase was also a highlight of the film. The scene where Jacob watched him climb down inside it was hilarious with Newt sticking a hand back out to wave Jacob in for some help and the inside was a masterful combination of practical effects, CGI and greenscreen. The fact it opened into acres of multiple habitats with dozens of additional Beasts is what sold the magic of the film to me.
This section if the film was on par with the performance section of the film. It was masterfully constructed and captured the magic of the Wizarding World for a second time, at least for me. It gets an 8 out of 10. If I was in the business for this type of work I would definitely give this crew a call.
It gets an 8 out of 10. If I was in the business for this type of work I would definitely give this crew a call. - Doc Comeau
Overall, despite being overloaded with unnecessary plot points to justify more movies, Fantastic Beasts were a magnificent film. No justification would have been needed for me to see Newt in another film about Beasts instead of playing pawn in a war with a dark wizard. I would recommend fans and new movie goers to see this film. It's the type of film you can watch over and over again.
1) IIMDb.com. (2016, November 18). Fantastic Beasts and where to find them. IMDb. Retrieved April 9, 2022, from https://www.imdb.com/title/tt3183660/
Archived At; https://archive.ph/UJgVF
2) Fantastic Beasts and where to find them. Rotten Tomatoes. (n.d.). Retrieved April 9, 2022, from https://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/fantastic_beasts_and_where_to_find_them
Archived At; https://archive.ph/4Ed3B
3) Redmayne, E., Waterston, K., & Sudol, A. (2016). Fantastic Beasts and Where to FInd Them. Warner Bros.