Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them Movie Review
by Phillip Wilcox "Our Movie Demon"
Director: David Yates
Writer: J.K. Rowling
Stars: Eddie Redmayne, Katherine Waterston, Alison Sudol
Running Time: 2 Hours 13 Minutes
Genre: Adventure, Family, Fantasy
How It Can Be Seen: Theatre
There's a whole mass of J.K. Rowlings fans who have followed her work as an author with her Harry Potter book series. Then came the film adaptations which were a huge hit and gained an even wider range audience and fans - From parents and children alike, Rowlings has captivated the world with her tales of Wizardry & Sorcery. And, I can't say that I've ever been a huge fan. Not that I'm saying she's bad at what she does. I'm just not particularly a fan of the fantasy genre. With the work of J.K. Rowlings there are two groups of people. The super fans and the non-fans. However, that isn't to say that I didn't enjoy Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them at the time I saw it.
Not knowing a whole lot about the mythology and history of the characters of J.K. Rowlings, I've gathered in my research that the story in this particular movie is about the adventures of a writer named Newt Scamander who arrives in a secret community of witches and wizards in New York in the early 1900's. A considerable amount of time before Harry Potter is introduced to us. Now, I suppose unless you are a hardcore Harry Potter fan you'd already know this. That information is not made clear as you're watching the film. Any information you get thrown at you is done so quite quickly during the beginning credit sequence of the film through a series of animated newspaper articles. I mean of course, most people going to see the movie would already know what has happened, so why waste Any time on catching up any people not familiar with the history and mythology of some of these characters, right? Even a female character that Newt was close with in the past, whom I'm assuming was quite crucial in the Harry Potter books, was brought up but never talked about for more than a minute. To which made it very challenging for me, as non-Harry Potter-fan, to have any sort of care for this girl they speak so briefly about. Once again, people who aren't familiar with or not fans of the Harry Potter series, are left in the dark.
Most of the main characters in this film however are endearing and loveable. In what could very well have been a more serious-toned film, the character of Kowalski (played by Dan Fogler), a regular fellow who is accidentally caught up in the maelstrom of the magical chaos and adventure that surrounds him, is the one that saves the movie with much needed moments of levity! Without him, the other characters may have their dry wit, but personally it wouldn't have been effective enough to make me smile.
This movie had reliable direction by David Yates; of course though! He had already directed 3 Harry Potter films, so who better to keep this movie within that realm? And who better to scribe the film than the original writer of Harry Potter, J.K. Rowlings herself! Lead by a solid cast such as Eddie Redmayne, Katherine Waterston, Samantha Morton, Ezra Miller, Dan Fogler, Ron Perlman (voice), Alison Sudol, Zoë Kravitz, Jon Voight, and even an appearance by Johnny Depp himself, this was quite the enjoyable, fun family movie that had underlining themes about friendship and accepting those who are different (if you tend to notice those kind of things in films). But it did have a bit of everything contained in this one little magical film; fright, romance, humor, action/adventure. Those who tell you that you don't need to have seen the Harry Potter movies to know what's going on in this movie, well that's true and it's not. But if you don't really care about that stuff and want to see a fun movie with the kiddies then totally, go for it!