This is my review for the film Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. There will be a non-spoiler review followed by a spoiler section.
Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them
The non-spoiler review will discuss my general thoughts and the spoiler section will talk about some of the points I raise in more detail. If you haven’t seen the film yet or don’t want to be spoiled, avoid the last section!
Non-Spoiler Review Section
Overall, I thought Fantastic Beasts was… okay. I’ve heard a lot of people claiming it was better than Doctor Strange (which I absolutely loved – review here) which I absolutely disagree with, but it was a decent film extending the Harry Potter franchise.
I didn’t think Fantastic Beasts was amazing. I kept being knocked out of the narrative in the slow parts. It was also an issue of timing – I’m still obsessed with Doctor Strange and this is a film I was expecting to be slightly disappointed by. However, I loved the scenes with the magical creatures themselves, and there was a lot of humour used (along with the English mannerisms of Newt, which I appreciated as a British person myself).
After seeing the film I would rate it around a 3.5, after reflection I’m somewhere between a 3.5 and a 4. I grew up with the Harry Potter films and I think that’s part of the problem: I was always going to be slightly disappointed with Fantastic Beasts because I wasn’t sure what it was going to be. Still, after reflection, I’m excited for where it will go next and look forward to following this new set of films within the extended Wizarding world.
I would still like to see further diversity within the Harry Potter franchise. I can understand that when JK Rowling initially wrote the books, diversity wasn’t being vocally pushed as it is now: I respect her storytelling, but a new extension to the franchise is the perfect opportunity to feature characters of different races and sexualities. It doesn’t need to be a big thing – I’d prefer there wasn’t a fuss about it – but some inclusion would be nice to see.
Spoiler Review Section
Warning, spoilers ahead.
Credence was definitely my favourite character, although the plot twist in that respect was, for me, obvious. I’d called it from the moment he was introduced that something big would happen with his character, and as soon as the film revealed details about the Obscura, I knew it wasn’t going to be his little sister. The toy wand had me confused for a brief second, which I’ll credit them for – a nice way of making me doubt myself if only briefly.
Newt is a character I’m mixed on. While at times the narrative in general felt jarring, and Newt certainly was awkward, I actually quite liked it being awkward. Too often Hollywood films contain confident, charismatic heroes and to have someone like Newt – an absolute book nerd and animal lover better at speaking to animals than humans – was refreshing.
I think the most frustrating thing for me was that other than Newt, the rest of the main characters were repetitions of previous cliches and I didn’t particularly connect with any of them while I was stuck being interested in a character who was central but, let’s face it, didn’t have as much screentime as he deserved. It’s also annoying that I’ve since found out there was an additional scene filmed with Credence at the very end (if you’ve seen the film, that’s important). I feel like if this had been left in I would have enjoyed the film more overall – if there is going to be a cliffhanger, I want it to be obvious rather than a partially typing off with one thing left unaddressed. It feels lazy, to some extent.
There were a lot of easter-eggs and shoutouts I noticed for Fantastic Beasts, and this is based off my knowledge having not read the books for at least seven years and not rewatched the films lately. Minor/major spoilers ahead!
- When going to the bank for a loan to open his bakery, __ has planning sketches of what the shop will look like. Above the door in one of the close up shots you can read ‘JK ROWLING‘.
- Credence is given a charmed necklace by Percival, which is long black cord with the symbol of the deathly hallows (a triangle with a circle and line down the middle). It’s never called the deathly hallows nor explained, but it’s visibly briefly in two frames – one straight on and one from a slight angle to his left. Post-film my brain also points out that he is responsible for three deaths in the film, linking to the deathly hallows being made of three parts.
- The girl in the picture of Newt’s suitcase who is reference in the back half of the film has the surname Lestrange. Who else does that remind you of? Bellatrix Lestrange! I think this was an obvious one but I wanted to point it out anyway.
I might create a ‘top five fantastic beasts theories‘ or a similar post – let me know if you’d like this! Please be careful in the comments, don’t be the muggle who accidentally spoils someone!
If you’ve made it to the end, you’re my favourite kind of reader! Did you like Fantastic Beasts? Notice anything I didn’t spot? Want to bring up something I didn’t mention? Let me know in the comments!
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