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Review: Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

Eddie Redmayne stars in Warner Bros. Pictures' FANTASTIC BEASTS AND WHERE TO FIND THEM

The world of Harry Potter looks to continue its run in film. For many, this was wonderful news. On the surface there are plenty of people who just love traveling to unknown fictional worlds that allow us to dream and become captivated by all that we are unable to actually see in real life.  I’d imagine that’s the hope of audiences when they go see Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. I guess some will be satisfied with what they get from it, but I just don’t see how that’s possible.

Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne) finds himself in 1926 New York during a long journey across the world trying to find the most fantastic creatures from all over. His stop in this city was supposed to be brief, but things take a turn toward adventure when he gets mixed up with Jacob (Dan Fogler), an ordinary man who’s just looking to start his own bakery. This regrettable meeting not only prolongs his stay, but lets lose some of the creatures that he’s captured which could cause all sorts of issues for wizards and humans alike.

There’s a great deal of magic going on, but it’s nothing special or worth much of anything. We find character after character with magic that simply consist of waving wands around with Transformer like damage that Michael Bay would be proud of being caused by some kind of magical, bland looking beast. I don’t completely know what JK Rowling’s idea of magic is, but it’s not much to see here in Fantastic Beasts. It’s also not fun to watch in the slightest.

I thought having JK Rowling write the screenplay had a chance to be a positive factor, but I was wrong. Just by watching the movie, you can tell that she is a first time screenwriter. I mean, you can blame the director or the studio for chopping this up, but I would imagine that her lack of experience played into this. I say this because looking at what’s included leads me to believe that I might be better in book form. Books give you more time to play with stuff simply because there’s a lot more room there than you’ll find in movies.

As a result, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is all over the place in terms of both story and structure. There’s basically a handful of tales being told at once and very few of them seem to even be connected for most of it. This can work in soap opera like form, but this isn’t a soap opera. It’s a film geared toward kids hoping to be awed by out of this world wizardry from entertaining characters.

Instead of that, kids are getting something that is considered dark by today’s standard in film. While that’s how it could be categorized, many will simply see it as being boring and soulless. Someone needs to tell whoever is making decisions in Hollywood that something can be dark and still have personality. Based on this and their stuff focusing on Superman, Warner definitely has been struggling with this recently. As I’ve said, they’re not the only ones with this problem. It appears as if many filmmakers equate being dark movies with being lifeless.

Dark films are more about the emotion than the looks. Of course, you can benefit from the appearance of a dreary and cold world, but the characters in the film are going to have to bring that darkness out in order to achieve the tone that they’re striving for. Having protagonists, antagonists and everyone else included do their best impersonations of robots isn’t helping matters. Now making them depressed and somehow charismatic enough to pull the audience in has the potential to make thing great. I know it’s difficult, but it can be done with skill and proper casting.

These fantastic beasts inhabit a world where the sun doesn’t exist and CGI is a way of life. With all the anticipation from many out there, it’s unfortunate that entertainment is nowhere to be found. For Warner Bros., JK Rowling and everyone else who has a vested interest in this, let’s just hope the people find more of a reason to like Fantastic Beasts than I did. If not, there will be no need for many more sequels. Of course, that doesn’t mean we won’t get them. They’re already being lined up, so people will just have to hope for improvements.

Rating: PG-13

Director: David Yates

Eddie Redmayne
Katherine Waterston
Dan Fogler
Alison Sudol
Ezra Miller
Samantha Morton
Jon Voight
Carmen Ejogo
Ron Perlman
Jenn Murray
Faith Wood-Blagrove
Colin Farrell

Film Length: 132 minutes

Release Date: November 18, 2016

Distributor: Warner Bros. Pictures

  • Score - 3/10
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