Thumbs Up or Thumbs Down? Simple, spoiler free reviews.
The year is 1926 as Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne) arrives in New York having just completed a global excursion to find and document an extraordinary array of magical creatures. Holding a mysterious leather suitcase in his hand. Inside his expanding suitcase hides a wide array of diverse, magical creatures that exist among us, ranging from tiny, twig-like ones, to majestic and humongous ones. In an unfortunate twist of fate, Newt’s precious suitcase is be switched with the identical one of an aspiring No-Maj (Muggle) baker, Jacob Kowalski leading to his beasts escaping all over the city.
I’ll admit now I was never the world’s biggest Harry Potter fan. The films were okay and certainly got better as the cast got older but you know, it’s Harry Potter isn’t it. That said, I was actually quite looking forward to watching this new spin-off franchise. After all, the world created by J. K. Rowling is huge and has plenty of space to grow as well.
So what did I think? Well, I’ll start off by saying that I imagine 99% (or more) of previous Harry Potter fans will love this film and it’s all ready a critical and financial success. As it was always going to be. And I did, for the most part, enjoy Fantastic Beasts.
Yet when you stop to think about it. The film has a flimsy plot that ambles along going nowhere fast. It jumps from quirky scene to quirky scene as we watch all of the bumbling main characters awkwardly interacting with magical CGI animals.
The film opens with a newspaper montage of the events involving the Dark Wizard Grindlewald but while his presence is occasionally hinted at the film really does for the most part lack a protagonist. Or rather, our main protagonists are so far detached from that plot line for so long it doesn’t feel important. Any darker moments are quickly forgotten about in the next scene as we switch back to Newt Scamander’s lighthearted buffoonery.
Fantastic Beasts however is filled with enough great ‘little moments’ to distract you long enough from the fact that the film is quite shallow. Hopefully this is something that the franchise can improve on in time. In this film though there is a real lack of depth for just about everything but plenty of hints to more interesting stories and events that we won’t see. I want more Grindlewald dammit!
Eddie Redmayne plays the eccentic, introverted, bumbling, british Newt Scamander well and I very much enjoy Colin Farrell subtly menace as Percival Graves. It’s Dan Fogler who steals the show in my opinion as wanna be baker Jacob Kowalski. He’s a really fun character. My only concern is that Johnny Depp plays the Dark Wizard Grindelwald and while he’s barely in this first movie, he’ll be in the rest. But which Johnny Depp will we get? The good one or the over the top incredibly annoying Tim Burton version?!
At the end of the day, it’s a fun little film that any previous Harry Potter fan will enjoy and I’m still looking forward to seeing more films from this universe. Just maybe give me something slightly more to sink my teeth into yeah?