[Review] Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
Hey guys! So my family has been on a movie watching spree recently and I’m slowly coming around with these reviews because why not?
And first one up is Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. I actually went to watch this one the day after it came out in theatres but I swear it felt like I went a week after (everyone was already talking about it everywhere I went! lol)
Fantastic Beasts is set in 1926 New York, about 60 years prior to the Harry Potter series. Here we follow Newt Scamander as he travels to NY after having finished an excursion where he documented a series of magical creatures and even kept some in his suitcase. Of course, his little detour in NY becomes more of an adventure as one of his creatures escapes his case, wreaks havoc in a bank, and he’s caught breaking the wizarding laws in America while the community is in a crisis of exposure!
Sounds really fun, no?
One of the more obvious reasons I wanted to watch this movie was that I’d been watching all the (more recent) Harry Potter movies in theaters and this was, in a way, a Harry Potter movie, so I felt an obligation to myself to go and see this. Another was that the setting was in America. While location was never a concern for me, because magical word, who cares? just saying this was going to happen in America got me curious. Would it be different? How? Would we see some of the people from the HP series when they were younger?! (You have no idea how much I need this)
In a way we did get slight mentions of Dumbledore and Hogwarts, but they were never really the focus of the movie. The one character that did overlap both worlds, however, was Grindelwald. I won’t really go into too much detail here because that would mean SPOILERS and honestly, I hadn’t known about him until this movie.
In terms of human characters, I was rather disappointed. We have our main protagonist, Newt Scamander who has a bunch of nearly extinct creatures in his suitcase, is studying them, and is trying to get one to Arizona, its natural habitat. But other than this quirky habit of caring for them and doing strange mating rituals, there’s not much else to him. Yes, he’s brave, yes he’s got some connection to Dumbledore, but not much else.
Even his suitcase had more personality /sigh/
Throughout the whole movie I also had a hard time deciphering what he was saying! I thought maybe it was because of his (natural) accent but when I looked him up on the internet later, I found I could understand him…why he was mumbling and extra accent-y is beyond me. (I mean, if they got Draco to enunciate, why couldn’t they do it here? lol)
We also meet Tina who is part of the Magical Congress of the United States of America (MACUSA) and the one who ends up arresting Newt when he first arrives in NY (his niffler escapes and causes mayhem!). Of course, her arresting him and taking him in clue us in that she’s been demoted and is no longer supposed to be arresting wizards (for some reason). Instead of letting Newt go, she becomes his shadow
stalker and “helps” him recover his suitcase, which had been taken by a No-maj (muggle) who mistook it for his.
I initially didn’t care much for her because she was just doing her job, but as the movie progresses she becomes more annoying. She pretty much has Newt under house arrest, follows him out when he escapes said house arrest, and gets him into trouble a lot. Like woman, I’m sure there are other law breaking magical citizens out there, why the obsession here?!
I also felt it was harder to connect with her because she was the more selfish of the characters. All her actions were less because she was worried about exposure and more about trying to get promoted/recognition. Even at the end, when she had a change in character, I still didn’t like her because her change came from self-preservation.
Plus, she was useless.
And the prize for human characters goes to these two lovebirds! You have no idea how much I loved these two and how they interacted!
Here we have Jacob Kowalski (aspiring baker) and Tina’s sister and roommate, Queenie Goldstein. Jacob is the no-maj who just happened to be at the wrong place when Newt’s niffler causes mayhem in NY. Accidentally taking Newt’s suitcase, Jacob releases a number of creatures out into the streets of NY and even gets bitten by one of them. Instead of being Obliviated, Jacob ends up helping Newt gather up his creatures.
I think I was particularly attracted to Jacob’s character because he was a no-maj and was just so fascinated by the magical creatures. He helped out Newt care for them in the suitcase, he got chased by a huge Erumpent that wanted to mate with him, and still didn’t freak out because technically this stuff isn’t supposed to exist, right?
And then we have Queenie, who seems to be pretty lady of the series. She looks good and knows how to use that charm to her advantage! She is also well versed in legilimency, a sort of mind-reading ability, which I absolutely loved. I actually didn’t think she’d be a main character but she surprised me in actually taking action (unlike someone else in this movie)
Just going to say that near the end she has a scene with Jacob that legit broke my heart.
And don’t even get me started with all the creatures inside Newt’s suitcase! I absolutely loved ALL of them! They all had such amazing personalities and I seriously wanted to help Newt take care of them. One of my favorites was this Niffler who loves taking shiny stuff and storing them into his bottomless pit of a stomach pouch.
Magical Problems in NY
New York has recently been having problems with exposure as there is some creature out there wreaking havoc and a group called the New Salem Philanthropic Society are doubling their efforts to expose witches and kill them (because who else could be behind something so out of this world?). Of course, this means MACUSA needs to hurry up and find said creature unless they want to face exposure (except it’s never that simple)
To keep things spoiler free, the movie tried to confuse us as to who the creature was and very much failed. Not to mention that everything turned out a little TOO convenient if you ask me
Overall I think the movie was OK. It really tried to cram so many ideas into a 2 hour (ish) film, which I felt was its biggest downfall. I mean, the majority of the movie was spent finding the creatures that had escaped Newt’s bag, which I felt should have been enough for the one movie. But then they had to add the whole exposure aspect, which was less detailed and more rushed.
AND THEN, they had this whole Newt and Tina scene that made me want to facepalm because they had so little connection but it felt like they were lovers who had to part. We already had the Jacob and Queenie thing going for the romance aspect, why are we forcing these other two into something like that?? I don’t know, to me it felt very unnatural and awkward
Another thing I wanted to mention (that probably has more to do with me), is that it was hard to watch this movie. At the beginning we get bombarded by a bunch of newspapers in quick succession that it’s hard to read any of them and even made me dizzy. This happened a couple more times in the movie (focus, unfocus, very fast movement) and I just really didn’t like it.
I did hear Fantastic Beasts was going to be a total of 5 movies and that Newt wasn’t going to be the protagonist in the next one. I’m not sure how I feel about this. Part of me is like ok because Newt just wasn’t my favorite but I’m also worried about too many characters being introduced and not getting enough development.
The nice thing about Harry Potter was that we had the same characters and we got to see them develop and grow. In this case it seems less about the world and more about creating more movies.