Let’s just say this film would have been more suitably named; Fantastic Franchises and How to Ruin Them.
The latest tale from the wizarding world of Harry Potter tells the tale of soon to be author Newt Scamander (played by Hollywood’s unquittable Eddie Redmayne) who has arrived in New York City in the late 1920’s, with a heart of good intentions… and a briefcase full of contraband creatures.
Fresh off the boat, Newt is drawn to a protest led by Mary Lou Barebone a woman trying to corral listeners to her cause; bringing back the Salem Witch Trials, convinced that the accursed walk among us. Trouble begins when a Niffler – a furry Platypus type critter with a fondness for shiny thing – escapes, on a mission to get him back, Newt accidentally drags aspiring Bakery Owner and No-Maj (Muggle) Jacob Kowalski along for the ride.
However Newt’s escapades have’t gone unnoticed by tenacious Auror Tina, who brings him into the Magical Congress of the United States of America (MACUSA) for his recklessness, illegal importation and risking the exposure of their kind. Luckily for Newt, him and his briefcase are the furthest thing from MACUSA’s problems; New York is being terrorised and the President and her consort are sure that they can smell the handy work of notorious Dark Wizard Gellert Grindelwald.
In all honesty this film was very forgettable, I won’t go as far as to call it boring, after all there was magic, and magic is awesome, that and it was interesting learning about how the wizarding world operates outside of England – Plus it’s set in the 1920’s, and who doesn’t like the 1920’s? Unfortunately despite the title of the film, finding fantastic beasts felt more like the smoking gun; yes, there were beasts that needed to be found, but there were also a hundred other things going on at the same time – and to be frank, they all seemed way more important.
Comparisons to the Harry Potter series are inevitable, though it seemed as if the producers weren’t sure how much they wanted to separate this film from its predecessors. The opening used the Harry Potter theme, and hints towards their London counterparts were made (which made sense as Newt is British) yet the style of the film was completely different. They should have given all (the Hobbit and LOTR) or nothing, (Star Wars IV-VI and I – III) having drips and drabs was just confusing for the audience.
The two central characters; Newt Scamander and the Auror Tina Goldstein, just fell flat to me. Again I thought they couldn’t make up their mind how to portray Newt; was he this sweet and shy bookish magizoologist? or this rebellious rule breaker? or perhaps a powerful wizard destined to save us all? Yes you can be all but you must wear all your personalities, not split them up for convenience.
Please don’t get me started on Tina (Katherine Waterston), the most annoying character I’ve seen this year. I understand what they were going for, I really do; The rule followers, the brown noser, the woman who was single-handedly trying to change the world yadda yadda yadda. But when it boiled down to it – you just didn’t like her. You weren’t rooting for her and you would much rather be watching someone else, personally for me that was the romantic C story.
We need to talk about Ezra Miller and his amazing portrayal of Credence Barebone, (the adopted son of Mary Lou) he was unrecognisable as the meek and abused teen. He wore his character so well it was frightening. Even Colin Farrell really looked and played the part, as the Director of Magical Security for MACUSA with his own secret agenda. Finally I just wanted to add that I loved that they had a “Madam President” who is akin to the British having a “Minister of Magic”.
Don’t feel bad for not liking this film. Don’t feel that you need too just because of its association with the Harry Potter series. Everyone will watch it and everyone will rave about it but really; It’s not that great. I really did – do – want to like this new prequel series, and the way it ended made be believe that they could do something great with it. With talks of their being four more Harry Potter spin offs in one capacity or another, I just hope for their sake and mine that they get it right next time around.