Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them Review (Spoiler free!)

Hey peeps! Yesterday, I was finally able to watch Fantastic Beasts because I wasn’t able to see it in cinemas. Being a big fan of the Harry Potter universe, with both the books and films making a huge impact on my life, I was looking forward to this new spin off film. I haven’t read the book under the same name as the film, so had no idea what to expect going in but from the spoiler free reviews I’d watched beforehand, it seemed like a good addition to the Harry Potter franchise 🙂

So Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is set in the 1920’s, seventy years before Harry Potter ever reads the book and follows the author, Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne) who has a fascinating love of magical creatures which he keeps hidden in an enchanted old suitcase. Unfortunately, when he visits New York, some of the creatures go missing and he manages to get his suitcase mixed up with one that belongs to a No-Maj (the American slang for Muggles) Jacob and Newt has to find them all before they cause chaos to New York.

So Fantastic Beasts was directed by David Yates again, who also directed Harry Potter films 5-7, who I thought did a pretty good job on those films, but not particularly in terms of book to film adaptations. What I liked about this film was that the story was about the author of the book and the screenplay was written by J K Rowling, so there wasn’t any adaptation errors to worry about here. The film looks fantastic! Throughout the 2hr 13 minute running time, I thought the cinematography and colours were used very well and represented 1920’s New York accurately. Although, I did think the lighting was a tad too dark in many scenes which really took me out of the film at some points, because it was too hard to actually see actors’ faces.

I thought the character of Newt was very likeable as an awkward, bumbling introvert with a huge passion for caring for magical creatures and Eddie Redmayne was a perfect choice for him. I’m a massive fan of Eddie, I think he’s a really good actor and he presented an endearing character, handling the interactions with the CGI creatures with believable love and devotion, and his emotional scenes very well. But the one who stole the show for me was Dan Fogler as Jacob Kowalski as the No-Maj who accidently gets roped into the fantasy, action adventure. His reactions to what was going on around him when encountering the magical beasts were absolutely hilarious and appropriate reactions to say the least. There was a funny scene when Newt climbed into his suitcase as if going down some stairs and it cut to Jacob’s reaction which was on the nose perfect, you’ll know what I’m talking about if you’ve seen it 😉

If I’m honest, I do think the other ‘good’ characters, which consisted of witch sisters Queenie (Alison Sudol) and Porpentina (Katherine Waterston) could have done with more character development. I found them to be quite flat characters, not at all unlikable but for me, simply lacked motivations, ambitions and rounded personalities. Especially because Porpentina acts as Newt’s love interest and the two even share a small moment at the end of the film, so I found it a bit disappointing that I didn’t feel too much emotion for the two, though there was definitely chemistry there between the actors. Since we are going to have about another 5 films in this series, I really hope these characters have more development and personality that matches the detail poured into the original trio of Harry, Ron and Hermione.

On the flip side, however, I thought Colin Farrell as Percival Graves was really good! He was very intimidating and chilling in his scenes, especially in the final act where the final battle takes place, but I promise not to spoil anything for anyone who hasn’t seen it. I will just say that J K Rowling never disappoints with her clever twists in the plot and this film includes a pretty predictable one but also one I honestly didn’t see coming. It’s handled really well and lead to an emotional climax. However, I did think that this film did sometimes suffer with pacing issues and balancing action with exposition scenes. There were times when it did drag between scenes and I was just waiting for some excitement again, so I thought the film could’ve done with a bit more editing and chopping down but it wasn’t noticeable for the whole time 🙂

Additionally, I did think the animation on the magical creatures was done very well. Most of the time the human eye can usually spot what is real and what isn’t, which of course is no exception here, but I really admire the detail and creative ideas that have gone into these creature designs, ranging from as small as a grasshopper to as big as a bus!

What did really surprise me most about the film was the dark and depressing tone it had towards the end! I wasn’t expecting it to be similar to the Harry Potter films anyway since it follows a cast of mature adults in 1920’s, so I suspected that it would be a tad darker in places, but didn’t expect it to be quite depressing during the climax! I did think it was handled well with good performances by the actors and a moving score by James Newton Howard, but as I mentioned before, I thought the film could’ve done with being edited to appear a little brighter.

All in all, I thought Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them was a really promising start to the new franchise on it’s way and to any Harry Potter fan who is worried about watching this film, I would definitely recommend for the excellently executed action scenes, detailed creature designs, good performances by the actors and more magic!

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