REVIEW: Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
In my totally subjective opinion, our recent understanding big budget filmmaking is almost entirely informed by a single franchise: Harry Potter.
It took 10 years to make, legitimized YA adaptations as money making juggernauts, and ended the reign of trilogies that had been built since Return of the Jedi. Not only that, but it spawned countless imitators. You have the pretty direct follow ups with stuff like the Maze Runner, Hunger Games, and Twilight, but take a closer look at all the superhero coming out right now and you’ll see shades of the boy who lived.
I mean, the leap between horcrux and infinity stone is more like a hop.
When the original Fantastic Beasts was announced I was THRILLED. Not only was it going to bring back the wizarding world I respected so much, but it was going to start a new era of sequel making. One where lazy reboots and sequels could be ditched for thoughtfully constructed spinoffs that were entirely their own thing. An era of new IP.
It needed to be good. No, great! It needed to be Harry Potter levels of great…and it was ok.
Just about everything in Fantastic Beasts needed 5 more minutes in the oven.
The characters have doughy personalities and don’t get the time they needed to prove themselves, the plot’s main antagonist bends mundane in comparison to the snappy gotta catch em all safari adventure, and you can barely even taste the 1920s Americana that was going to give this franchise a voice. The theme song isn’t very thematic, the mystery isn’t that mysterious, and the reveals aren’t really revealing.
But even when your cookies are gooey in the center, they can still make for a delightful Saturday evening.
Moments of real tragedy are pinned with a wonder and hope that is so clearly J.K. Rowling, the structure is tight and very different from the more gradual Sorcerer’s Stone introduction, and for the most part, the titular beasts are a lot of fun!
Worldbuilding-wise the underground magical community feels bigger than ever, I was astounded by the detail rich effects put into even the smallest of creatures, and Dan Fogler’s performance alone was worth the price of admission.
It wasn’t the saving grace I was looking for but it was a good try made by a lot of talented people.
P.S. I know infinity stones were technically created before Harry Potter existed, but the ones in infinity war were so clearly potterified it hurts, so there. Nerd cred restored.