It's been five years since we said goodbye to Harry Potter and the wizarding world in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2. With the way Hollywood is now, I'm surprised it's taken Warner Bros. five years to return to one of their most lucrative properties to see if they can bleed it dry.

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is a film based on a textbook written by J. K. Rowling within the Harry Potter universe. The textbook is one written by Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne) and is pretty much an encyclopaedia of creatures that he's documented on his travels throughout the wizarding world.

When Newt arrives in 1926 New York, he does so carrying a suitcase full of magical creatures. After a mix up with Jacob Kowalski (Dan Fogler), Newt loses the case and as a result, a number of the creatures escape and run amok in New York. While trying to track down the escaped creatures, Newt must evade the clutches of Percival Graves (Colin Farrell), an Auror working for MACUSA (The Magical Congress of the United States of America), trying to protect the wizarding world from human discovery.

It's definitely fun returning to the wizarding world and Rowling has written an entertaining enough story however, my problems with Fantastic Beasts lie with the fact that there is barely any introduction given to this time and setting in the wizarding world. It was something that Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone did so well, laying the foundations for the rest of the series however, that was the world of Hogwarts and this an entirely new setting.

We're just thrown into this story with Newt tracking down the creatures and nothing else that happens around this main story is explained very well at all. It's certainly an adventure that is fun to watch but I felt the setting needed a bit more depth, considering this is going to be a series of five films. Don't even get me started on the finale of this film, which becomes a ball of confusion thanks to an unexplained revelation and an incoherent set-piece involving a rampant black cloud (known as an Obscurus).

Which leads me to the special effects on show in this film, which for the most part are very good. The majority of the creatures are well designed and brought to life through wonderful effects, even if they aren't all that fantastic. In places though the CGI looked a tad messy, particularly in the finale I've mentioned previously.

Unlike the Harry Potter films, Fantastic Beasts doesn't have the likeable characters to lead the film. The performances are good enough but the characters were a little lacklustre. Newt Scamander is a pretty weak lead character for a start and Eddie Redmayne doesn't really do enough to make you like him, leaving this as a Redmayne performance somewhere between the heights of The Theory of Everything and the very low depths of Jupiter Ascending. Dan Fogler's effort as the comic relief of the film is admirable but he doesn't do much else other than make weird faces and noises. 

Katherine Waterston and Alison Sudol play a pair of sisters who Newt meets during his time in New York but I can't help but feel Waterston is massively wasted in a very limited role, as is Colin Farrell as the mysterious Graves. Much has been made of Johnny Depp's casting announcement in this series and his appearance here leaves me fearing the worst for the rest of these films.

Warner Bros. initially announced Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them as the start of a new trilogy, which more recently became a pentalogy. While there is certainly enough fun to be had with this film, the films simply have to get better if they are to standalone from the Harry Potter films. 

Verdict: ★★★


  1. Love your review it really was great to head back into the Potter Universe. I was very excited for this film due to just seeing The Cursed Child last month in London. Your right about the characters though we don't get many truly likeable ones, I was nervous about Redmayne as I am not his biggest fan at all. Thought he was pretty good as Newt, interested to see where Rowling is going to take us next!

    1. Cheers! I'm interested in seeing The Cursed Child, is it any good? Redmayne is a very nice guy just has a very annoying manner when it comes to roles like this. It will be interesting to see where they go from here, particularly if they stick with Johnny Depp.


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