Possible spoilers ahead!
I have a confession: I am not a Harry Potter fan. I haven’t read any of the books, and I only saw three of the Potter movies. I know, I know, I’m an island of one. But I just never understood the fascination with these characters. Knowing I wasn’t a fan of the wizarding world, I was as shocked as anyone when I liked “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.”
One of the things I liked best about Fantastic Beasts it that although it’s part of the Harry Potter world, I didn’t need to know all the ins and outs from the books and/or movies. All I really needed to know was that the book Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne) writes, will one day become a textbook at Hogwarts.
Free of a lot of baggage, I was able to enjoy Newt’s trip to New York, and his meeting former Auror Tina Goldstein (Katherine Waterston), aspiring bakery owner and No-Maj, Jacob Kowalski (Dan Fogler), Tina’s free-spirited sister, Queenie Goldstein (Alison Sudol), and the Director of Magical Security for the Magical Congress of the United States of America, Percival Graves (Colin Farrell).
Eddie Redmayne as Newt Scamander was great casting, and he was wonderful as usual. Watching the movie, you come to care about these creatures due to Newt’s enthusiasm and knowledge of the magical animals. He’s funny, charming, and courageous.
Tina Goldstein (Katherine Waterston) has some satisfying moments in the film, like when she first meets Newt. But her character isn’t as well-rounded as Newt or even Jacob Kowalski. To be clear, none of this was Waterston’s fault. I thought she was good in the role, I just hope she’s given better material to work with in the sequels.
Jacob Kowalski (Dan Fogler) and Queenie Goldstein (Alison Sudol) are the standouts of the film. Every time the pair appear on the screen they breathe life into scene. Whenever the film got too dark, Jacob and Queenie where there to brighten things up. Without a doubt, these two are the heart of this movie.
To bring the film to life, Warner Bros. brought back the director of the final four Harry Potter films, David Yates. I’m a fan of his work, and his “Legend of Tarzan” was one of my top 10 movies of last year. However, there were a couple of spots in Fantastic Beasts that felt rushed. I don’t know if this had anything to do with production on Tarzan going long, but I wouldn’t be surprised if that was a factor.
Had Yates been given more time, I would have liked to see more of the Magical congress, and what else they do. I also would have loved to see what else Queenie could do with her powers. She turned out to be my favorite character in the movie, She better be back in the sequels, that’s all I’m saying.
I don’t understand the amount of hate “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” received. This is a good movie, not perfect perhaps, but an enjoyable movie nonetheless. All I can think of id that Harry Potter fans were expecting the same tone and look of the those movies, and instead got a darker, more grown up version of wizards. But you know what? I liked that.
Fantastic Beasts was another one of those movies that for one reason or another, I missed during the holiday season. Now I’m wishing I’d seen it on the big screen because I enjoyed it some much.
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them final score: B