Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (2016) – 4/5

It has been five years since the Harry Potter saga ended and here we are all craving for more. With such a great potential for different spin-offs, it is amazing this didn’t happen sooner. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them starts out slowly, with a script that surely needs development, but as soon as we take a look into Newt Scamander’s magical suitcase, we are transferred to that world we had all longed for for the last five years, the Wizarding World of J.K. Rowling.

Directing: David Yates
Cinematography: Philippe Rousselot
Screenplay: J. K. Rowling
Editing: Mark Day
Music: James Newton Howard

Newt Scamander is a magizoologist and the acclaimed author of the book Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. Much to our amusement and wonder, Newt keeps a world full of magical creatures in his traveling suitcase. He arrives to New York with the intent of releasing one of his precious creatures into its natural habitat. However, he gets mixed up in a wizarding crisis and many of his mischievous creatures escape into New York. The creatures are simply extraordinary. From the playful Niffler, to the loving Bowtruckle, to the majestic Occamy, you will gasp in admiration at J.K. Rowling beautiful mind.

Harry Potter fans will be glad to know this is not a completely independent story from the Harry Potter series. There are plenty of references to characters we’ve already heard of. A personal favorite of mine in wizarding history, Gellert Grindelwald, is all over the place in this film. And you will see him in the next films to come as well (which is so freaking amazing!). While the characters and story are well thought of, the acting and screenplay throughout the first half has some issues.

There is a very important difference between writing a screenplay and writing a book. Books are descriptive, you could read thoughts and descriptions for hours and enjoy every moment of it. Screenplays need dialogue and in the absence of a dialogue, they need something equally engaging to replace it. J.K. Rowling is obviously a book author, and Fantastic Beasts is ample proof of that. The script is awfully slow at the beginning. It is not bad, it just needs more. We experience awkward silences between our two protagonists and empty expressions from Eddie Redmayne (and I am a big fan of Eddie Redmayne). It is as if he was trying to bring back his Danish Girl character to some extent, but it just was not working in this movie. On top of this, the story goes back and forth between multiple scenes and themes, that could work well in a book but definitely not in a two hour movie.

The story and the magic are good, but the lack of dialogue at the beginning of the movie, and the overwhelming amount of scenes and themes they go over, makes the movie more confusing than it has to be. However, this does not change the fact that Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them holds true to the wizarding world that we all love. J.K. Rowling succeeded in bringing back the magic we all missed, the adventures we hoped to see, and the new characters we will soon fall in love with.

Learn more about the movie here: Rotten Tomatoes

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