Saturday, November 19, 2016

Movie Review: Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

J.K. Rowling is unable to leave the Wizarding World of Harry Potter and continues to put out ever expanding stories with a sequel play reviewed here and now the prequel movie series. The overlong titled Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them comes from a textbook that Harry Potter read in his years at Hogwarts. The author serves as the main character, Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne) collects rare magical creatures and stores them in a magically large suitcase to prevent their extermination.

Scamander has come to America to release one of the creatures back in its natural environment. In a rushed past, he chases after a cute Niffler, a creature in search of gold and jewels, and bumps into Jacob Kowalski (Dan Fogler) a WWI veteran who hopes to open a bakery. Also on his trail is Porpentina "Tina" Goldstein (Katherine Waterson), an auror who has had some professional trouble and hopes to bring Scamander as a form of redemption.

The plot felt so rushed as Kowalski and Scamander's suitcases are switched and the animals inside manage to escape. Instead of releasing creatures and chasing them down, a simple plot that could have made for a fun movie, an elaborate subplot that had an overt message of tolerance but lost the charm of the magic. Newt encounters Mary Lou Barebone (Samantha Morton), a preacher against witches that she knows are hidden out of sight. She holds dominion over children who spread the word and a young man Credence (Ezra Miller) who may be more than as he first appears.

This plot ties back into the magical world as Percival Graves (Colin Farrell), the head auror, has a secret agenda to use the distraction of the creatures for something more nefarious. None of this feels like a spoiler because all of the twists are rather easy to figure out and lack all the stunning shock of the original novels. The plot feels a lot like a prequel that his holding off from anything too stunning because it is waiting for another movie to really get into the connecting plot. 

There is humor, and the chasing of the creatures is fun to watch. Other characters like Seraphina Picquery (Carmen Ejogo) and Queenie (Alison Sudol) expand the magical universe in a fun way. Seeing all the creatures are fun like the tiny plants and giant birds that are cute and interesting to see on the big screen with a message of conservation that could be wiped away in the upcoming years. Fantastic Beasts is fun but could have been so much more. 

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