This Beastly Adventure is Fantastically Fun, But Something Is Missing

beasts

            Harry Potter, a series that so long ago took us on an adventure none of us would ever forget.  Years later, it is still the talk of the town and despite the books essentially ending, the Hogwarts Express money train is still charging ahead to bring out more ideas.  This weekend J. K Rowling brings you another installment in her ever expansive world in the form of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. Seeing that they were making a movie on what was essentially an encyclopedia of made up creatures, I couldn’t help but wonder how good this movie would be.  What is the verdict?  As always read to find out.

 

LIKES:

  • A J.K. Rowling story
  • Funny and Intense
  • Fantastic visual effects

 

After the recent 8th book and half of the movies, I feared Rowling’s quality had been wrung dry from the constant demand of her fans.  Glad to see I was wrong.  Fantastic Beasts recaptured the magic we fell in love, bringing back the storytelling she started all those years ago. This film has mystery, suspense, and a character driven element all beautifully integrated together, crafting an adventure that is certain to enchant.  While the main quest seems to be a simplistic game of hide and seek with gigantic creatures, this tale has many more depths to further draw you into Scamander and friends’ life (potentially expanding into more movies should they decide to pick up the option).

Story aside, the film has the other elements you die hard Potter fans want in an adventure.  For one thing there are plenty of laughs to go around: such as Scamander awkwardly solving a problem (e.g. doing a mating dance that is a bad rendition of the Thriller dance) or his No Mag friend Kowalski having a few one liners and slapstick to get a laugh.  These moments keep things fun and fresh and help relieve some of the darker points of the movie. The intense moment isn’t so much in the movie itself, but for me in the hopes that Scamander will find his creatures before any are hurt or killed (which you know Rowling is famous for doing). At times there are other suspenseful elements to the mix, but unfortunately the suspense was not at the level the other Potter tales have.

  However, the biggest win for me are the visual effects of the film.  Many of the spells you’ve seen before: white lights for blocking projectiles, or colorful lights before a door opens.  However, my favorite spells involved repairing broken objects, which we have seen before but never to the city rebuilding scale. But all the magical quirks pail to the design of the diverse beasts that inhabit Scamander’s suitcase. Many of the creatures are exactly what you expect from Rowling’s imagination, a combination of deadly and cute in a variety of colors and shapes. Their animation is flawless and their integration into the tale, for the most part, makes up most of the adventure.

 

DISLIKES

  • Something is missing
  • The evil element was lacking
  • A little cheesy in dialogue

 

Despite all the fun I had in the film there still is something missing that the first installments of her series had.  One element was  a lack of grandiose palaces and magical alleys that we love to get pulled into, or perhaps it was that most of the spells were simplistic and old hat.  Or maybe…it was wanting more creatures to involved in the tale to bring further suspense or drama. One thing is for certain though, the “threat” of this film was more diluted than I had anticipated. Fantastic Beasts primary baddie still has the mystery behind it as you try to uncover what thing runs afoul in New York.  However, when it is finally revealed, it disappointed me as it lacked the menacing quality most Potter villains possess. Oh sure the circumstances about its’ origins scream Rowling, but the design, execution, and threat were dropped in this film.  And yes there is a twist that was very welcome, but it wasn’t enough to save the unimpressive bad guy after all the buildup.

As for the dialogue and script, this too is another element that could have used some tweaking. At times our characters deliver lines that bring back the nostalgic feeling of the first installments, being both entertaining and empowering to fans.  However, this film felt a little more overdramatic and preachy, dropping the clever for emotional, cheesy bologna that took away from the scenes rather than add to it.  While this dislike is minor at times, there are some really hokey moments that had my eyes rolling.

 

 

THE VERDICT:

Overall, Fantastic Beasts is a grand adventure, with beautiful special effects and a dynamic tale that is sure to entertain the masses.  However, there is still something missing from this movie that makes it pale to some of the predecessors Warner Bros have made in the past.  Regardless, this reviewer encourages you to go see the magnificent specimens of merchandising (the beasts) in theaters by the effects alone as this film was better than many of the latter movies for me.

 

Adventure/Family/Fantasy:  8.5

Movie Overall:  7.5

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