Thursday, December 8

Haiku Revieu | Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

Thursday, December 8
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
★★★★1/2

Welcome back wizards
Not so much about the beasts
I want a Niffler



The adventures of writer Newt Scamander in New York's secret community of witches and wizards seventy years before Harry Potter reads his book in school.



As a long time Harry Potter fan, I was excited about the possibilities of new movies set in the same wizarding world. At the same time, I was hesitant, as I think fans often are in cases like these. Will the new movies be good? Will they do the franchise—both books and movies—justice? Or will they be terrible, childhood-ruining events from which I will have to run, sobbing, and turn to drink to forget?

Thankfully, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them fell squarely in the "this is good" camp. I'm not entirely sure that it did the Harry Potter books/movies justice, but that's more because it felt like an entirely new animal rather than not living up to expectations. In fact, I had very little in the way of expectations going in, other than the hope that I'd enjoy it.

Fantastic Beasts is a darker, more adult movie than its Harry Potter predecessors. Although things got dark when Harry and Co. were battling Voldemort and his Death Eaters, Fantastic Beasts touches on themes of child and animal abuse and racism. But it's not a total bummer of a film, the titular fantastic beasts are for the most part adorable, and you can't help but root for the main quartet of Newt Scamander, Tina and Queenie Goldstein and Jacob Kowalski.

I particularly enjoyed the quirky way Eddie Redmayne portrayed Newt. His mannerisms were somewhat bizarre, but watching him with his beasts was heartwarming. And I loved that this was the first Harry Potter movie that made it a point to talk about how wizards work with muggles—I still don't love the Americanized "no-maj" term—going so far as to have a completely non-magical main character in Dan Fogler's Kowalski.

I would have liked more about the beasts and where to find them—I'm hoping for a buddy movie where Newt and Jacob (along with Tina and Queenie) go on adventures to rescue beasts. And I didn't really love the Graves plot line, nor his creepy sexual predator vibes, but I understand that it was necessary to set up future things. And (highlight for spoilers), I am really on the fence about Johnny Depp's Grindelwald. As much as I used to adore Johnny in roles and years past, he hasn't been truly great for a while, and I worry that he'll turn the character into a too-weird joke.

But really, what I wanted most out of this film was to be able to forget about the real world for a couple of hours, and my experience was exactly that. I look forward to revisiting this world in the movies to come.

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