Film Review: Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them (No Spoilers)

Jordan Samuel Jordan Samuel
Expert Contributor
November 18th, 2016

Film Critic and Writer for ComiConverse.com, the Founder and co-host of the official Nerdcast Network Podcast

Price:
Fantastic

Reviewed by:
Rating:
4
On November 18, 2016
Last modified:November 18, 2016

Summary:

Five years from Harry Potter's last outing, Fantastic Beasts is a great inclusion to the great movie franchise. One that should please fans and newcomers to the magical world of J.K. Rowling.

Price:
Fantastic

Reviewed by:
Rating:

4
On November 18, 2016
Last modified:November 18, 2016

Summary:

Five years from Harry Potter's last outing, Fantastic Beasts is a great inclusion to the great movie franchise. One that should please fans and newcomers to the magical world of J.K. Rowling.

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Harry Potter's journey finished in 2011, but the Magical World of J.K. Rowling is returning with Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. Our Film Critic Jordan Samuel has been on the beast hunt early and brings us the official ComiConverse review.

Film Review: Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (No Spoilers)

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Credit: Warner Bros.

I grew up with the Harry Potter franchise, it connected to me on another level that nothing else has since. The earliest memories I had with the series, was sitting down in the dark with a torchlight trying to read each book.

My love for the Wizarding World continued with the movie series that started with Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone in 2001, a title that brought J.K Rowling's beautiful world to the life. It blew fans and newcomers away with it's perfect retelling of those now classical books, ending up spawning a billion-dollar franchise with eight live-action movies.

When movie spin-off Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them was announced, I got quite scared about the idea because previous attempts at revivals this have gone horribly wrong in the past. But this was put to rest when J.K.  announced her involvement with the script, which got me excited for a franchise reboot. Warner Brothers. Pictures has had faith in the Harry Potter franchise since day one back in 2002, with each movie feeling faithful to the source material.

But does the spin-off succeed in reviving the franchise or does it fail in doing anything good with this beloved material?

The year is 1926 and Newt Scamander has just completed a global excursion to find and document an extraordinary array of magical creatures. Arriving in New York for a brief stopover, he might have come and gone without incident...were it not for a No-Maj (American for Muggle) named Jacob, a misplaced magical case, and the escape of some of Newt's fantastic beasts, which could spell trouble for both the wizarding and No-Maj worlds.

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Credit: Warner Bros.

I'm happy to confirm this continues with Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, the movie based on a Hogwarts textbook is a neat addition. Perfectly bringing a new set of characters, fantastical beasts and adult storyline into the rich world of J.K. Rowling.

David Yates is back as Director to the franchise, and does a better job than what came before. Being more free to provide his own spin on the source material – something he never could have allowed with the main series. In turn, he brings the needed magic and wonder back to the forefront after dreadful and depressing times in Deathly Hallows Part 1 & 2.

The story is about Hogwarts "Magizoologist" Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne), who in 1920's New York opens a suitcase full of Magical Beasts by accident, freeing them coms into public eye. He must team up with various wizards across America to protect the No-Maj (Muggle) world from immense danger. This may sound like some rejected fan-fiction to many, but it works in the context of this magical world J.K. Rowling created. Everything feels fluid, funny and serious – something desperately needed after the crazy wizarding war featured in David Yate's last franchise effort. The script is rich with world building, twists and turns which set it apart from the previous movie with new risks and rewards.

David Yates brings the stakes to another level, with some breathtaking scenes dazzling in glee and joy unlike anything seen in the franchise. He successfully brings a new era of the wizarding world to our screens being both - stunning, imaginative and different.

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Credit: Warner Bros.

Eddie Redmayne is Newt Scamander, a shy awkward animal lover that is visiting New York on a worldwide tour for research on the titular book. Redmayne brings this character to life with an outstanding performance embracing the Newt's quirks with full effect, expanding on a rather blank role. He brings some sweet line delivery and confidence unmatched with anything seen in the previous films, joining the famous Daniel Radcliffe as a powerful lead.

Newt Scamander could have been a run of a mill hero, but Warner Bros. have crafted an iconic role with Eddie.

He finds himself in a major issue, when his creatures escape across the city. Which is a massive issue with Percival Graves (Colin Farrell), director of the Magical Congress of the United States who puts the blame on Mr. Scamander. The dangerous events create a massive worry for the witches and wizards in America, as the No-Maj (Muggles) could discover their world and break into a massive war between both communities.

Newt wants to clear his name, and rescue his cute animal buddies so he teams up with a banker (Dan Fogler); a former Statute of Secrecy agent (Katherine Waterston) and her mind-reading sister (Alison Sudol) who all do a fantastic job. They may not be Hermione and Ron – but their connection with Newt is quite powerful which should be developed in the future movies.

Highlight star Dan Fogler is Jacob (Muggle) sidekick to Redymane's Newt, who is the comedic relief of this picture and delivers a quite fun-loving performance for the audience. Helping balance out the dark second half with some belly rumbling one liners

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Credit: Warner Bros.

The film tackles some dark themes, as the screenplay is more adult-themed when compared to some of Harry Potter's other adventures. It drops some massive bombshells in the final act that will be, without doubt, a main plot point in the future films. Rowling does some fantastic stuff with the script, that should be praised when you realize the source material is so thin.

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It may confuse younger children who have seen the Harry Potter films with the darker tone and complex themes. The last few scenes go into horror movie territory, which puts the tension in centres screen - which may terrify some families.

The "Fantastic Beasts" beasts themselves look outstanding, with the CGI department needed raises for their work. This, in my opinion, rivals anything I have seen this year, with some immense detail used on the magical beings. They all feel alive, something I was worried about after seeing the trailer – but the studio doesn't hold back with the visuals. I did have issue with the last several scenes, which do look rather cheap-looking when compared to previous Harry Potter movies. Its something that, without doubt, could have been fixed with a higher budget.

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is a brilliant start to new franchise within the Harry Potter Universe. It brings in some meaty characters who could grow into classic roles in the Magical Universe and balances a neat story and action sequences also some fantastic looking beasts, with great results.

Five years from Harry Potter's last outing, Fantastic Beasts is a great inclusion to the great movie franchise. One that should please fans and newcomers to the magical world of J.K. Rowling.

 

Jordan Samuel is a Film Critic for ComiConverse. Follow him on Twitter: @JordanESamuel

Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them

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Five years from Harry Potter's last outing, Fantastic Beasts is a great inclusion to the great movie franchise. One that should please fans and newcomers to the magical world of J.K. Rowling.

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