Fantastic Beasts & Where to Find Them Review

JK Rowling’s Wizarding World Expands Tremendously

A balance of good character development and an original story makes for a strong first outing in a new adventure in the Wizarding World of JK Rowling. The movie’s original screen-play was written by Rowling and was directed by David Yates. The cast featured Eddie Redmayne, Colin Farrell, Katherine Paterson, and Ezra Miller as well as a slew of fantastic beasts.

A Fresh Take on the “Origin Story”

FANTASTIC BEASTS AND WHERE TO FIND THEM
Newt Scamander (Redmayne) on the left and  Porpentina ‘Tina’ Goldstein (Paterson) on the right.

There has been a trend in movies, post the Marvel Cinematic Universe, that if there is even a small chance that the movie could spawn a series to push that movie into the trappings of an origin story. In other words, sacrifice plot for  tried and true cliches to build a series from.

Fantastic Beasts & Where To Find Them: The Original Screenplay

Thankfully, Fantastic Beasts does away with the cliches of a normal origin story and focuses on delivering a well told narrative from beginning to end. The characters, especially our heroes, become fully realized and sympathetic. The plot is further heightened by the layered setting and sense of time period.

No-Majs & the American Wizarding World c. 1925

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The charm of the British modern-day Wizarding World is brought to the shores of New York City in the post WWI area. The world of this movie is one of more maturity and severity than that of Hogwarts and Quidditch. The No-Maj (or non magical) community takes on a more threatening presence than in England. The tension that this creates in the story immediately puts Newt Scamander (Redmayne) in a sympathetic role as a visitor to America. The tone that is set by the sense of time period makes for a familiar, but intriguing story.

Newt w/Egg Funko!

Stumbling Transitional Moments

The pace of this movie does falter from time to time, seemingly to fit in all the world building, character development, and plot points. There are moments in the climax of action sequences where major plot moments seem glossed over, as well as some characters that are only mentioned in passing that are important to the plot. These elements do not make the film unwatchable but do jumble the continuity up enough to frustrate the more film-literate movie goers.

Lovable, & Simply Fantastic, Creatures

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Meet Niffler, master of all things shiny and valuable. Funko Pop available now!

The heart of this movie comes from the innocence of the movies heroes and the titular Fantastic Beasts. While this movie does not grow the Wizard World’s bestiary as much as it advertises, the creatures featured are whimsical and fully formed characters in their own right. Not only do the creatures feel as original as the plot of the movie, these characters easily have become a part of the Wizard World’s iconography, and have elevated the movie overall.

FINAL SCORE

8.4/10

The major triumph of Fantastic Beast’s is the freshness it brings to the genre of origin story and to JK Rowling’s Wizarding World. This movie has set up a very interesting series, following the tumultuous WWII era in the Wizarding World. The film may move in an awkward and inconsistent pace at times, but is still worth the ride.

+ Original Story & Characters in Established World

+ Niffler

– Odd Pacing & Continuity Issues

Jeff ‘Beta’ Dugan is a proud Ravenclaw, Pukwudgie (Ilvermory) & has a Brown Bear Patronus. He is also a featured guest on The Geekiverse’s video games podcast, Geeks Got Game (G3). You can download it on iTunes & SoundCloud.

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