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Movie Review: Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

Updated on November 19, 2016
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General Synopsis

Newt Scamander is a wizard who, expelled from Hogwarts, searches for mystical beasts to protect and study. He finds a creature that he must return to its natural habitat in the United States. However once, getting to the U.S. with his case full of creatures, a few escape into the city. Newt must then team up with some unlikely allies to find the missing creatures and return them to his suitcase.

Official Trailer

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The Pros

  • Main Characters - There are really three main characters in this movie. Newt, Tina and Kowalski. Newt is a wizard from England, Tina is a witch from New York and Kowalski is a muggle. The three get wrapped up in this adventure together. I really liked the actors who played these characters and I liked the chemistry between them. Kowalskibis definitely the comedic element of the movie and it works really well. There are some laughs but it is not over done and it does not feel forced. I also liked the dynamic between Newt and Tina. They very lightly address the differences in wizard slang between England and the United States. It was cool watching the relationship between these three characters grow and I look forward to seeing it grow even further in future movies. Half the battle in starting a franchise like this is providing characters that the audience wants to see moving forward into future movies. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them does this well.
  • Colin Farrell - I really liked this character. This movie really tries to keep you guessing on what his intentions are and I think that a role like this doesn't work if the actor can't portray it as being able to be good or bad in a believable way. I think Colin Farrell nailed it, kept me guessing the whole time as I was going back and forth. Is the character good or evil? You'll have to find out for yourself.
  • The Beasts - This was crucial. In a movie titled Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, the quality of the beasts can make or break the film as a whole. The beasts weren't ridiculous (aside from a dance Newt does to capture one). They were interesting, they felt mystical, and they were fun to watch to see what each of them could do.

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The Cons

  • Two Main Plots - This movie has two main plots happening simultaneously. The first is Newt's objective. His goal is completely separate from the goals of the rest of the characters in the U.S. Magical Congress (I believe that's what they call it). As we see in the trailer, creatures escape from Newt's suitcase, causing Newt to be sidelined from his original goal as he hopes to re-capture them. This is the storyline that the trailers give us, however there is another major storyline involving the U.S. Magical Congress. This wasn't advertised as far as I know so I will not spoil it here. I understand why the movie needed two main storylines, the first is our main characters storyline for this first movie, the other sets things up for future movies in the franchise. That being said it felt like these two plots were forced together so I would have liked to see two plots with some common interests so that the movie felt more natural.
  • Newt Scamander - Ok now I liked Eddie Redmayne's performance, the guy can act. The character itself, however, was a bit of a mess. He's supposed to be an expert on creatures, yet he does not do a good job of keeping track of them as the plot of the movie suggests. Additionally, we did not get enough of his backstory or his motivation for his deep passion for creatures. He's basically PETA in the mystical world of Harry Potter, but the movie didn't properly tell us why he loves them so much. I'm hoping this is something that is addressed in future movies. Or perhaps there will be a prequel trilogy explaining how he became this way. That sounds like a great idea.
  • How Many Beasts are Left? - Again, as the trailer shows, Newt has this suitcase that contains many "fantastic beasts" and when he gets to New York City, a bunch of them get out. As I explained before, Newt does a poor job of keeping track of them, but the movie does as well. I'll explain that. We see thee case open, but we don't see how many get out or what they look like. Newt, however seems to know (or think he knows) just how many are missing. Each time he catches one, he will say how many are left to find. Making you count in your head which ones he still has to find. Making you think that he's either wrong in his count, or he caught some that the movie didn't show. Even now, after seeing the movie, there is one that I can think of that he saw a couple times but never caught. So as far as I'm concerned that creature is still freely roaming New York, but it is never addressed. Unless I blinked for a second and missed him catching the creature, it's still out there.

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Rating: B+

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them had it's issues, there is no way around it. The plot, or plots, felt forced together to a complicated degree. The main character was under developed so was unrelatable, but the dynamic between him and the other two main characters (Tina and Kowalski) was a lot of fun to watch. I had a lot of fun in this movie as it reintroduces us to the wizarding world, and introduces us to new creatures and characters. The creatures were absolutely fascinating to watch which provided some entertaining moments during plot lulls.

I think that despite this movie's problems, it had enough pros to justify giviing it a good rating. I absolutely recommend seeing this movie, in theaters because all the magic and beasts will look better on the big screen.

What did you think of this movie?

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