Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them Reviews
The story focuses on Newt Scamander (Academy Award winner Eddie Redmayne), an author who travels to New York City on a global study to find and care for fantastical beasts. However upon entering the city, some of his beasts (locked away in his magical suitcase) are released. While trying to find them, Scamander finds himself in the middle of an ongoing protest between wizards and no-majs (an American term for Muggle).
The story takes place in 1929 before the events of Harry Potter and gang. In fact, there is little to no real tie to the storyline besides the general topics (wands, wizards, no-majs/muggles, Hogwartz, etc.). However, there in lies the problem with "Fantastic Beasts." As the film tries to be on its own, the viewer cannot help but compare the film to the "Harry Potter" series. The charm from the original series is here in "Fantastic Beasts," but what is really missing is a great story. There is tension between the wizarding world and the no-majs, there is a dark source of magic in the city, and there is a main character we can get behind. However, there is no supporting cast of "fantastical" characters that we can understand and love or hate. Percival Graves (Colin Ferrell, who's performance is somewhat lacking) is an interesting character but towards the end becomes a typical, by-the-book character. The twist at the end is predictable which removes whatever tension is from the film (though I wonder how much Johnny Depp got for 30 seconds of screen time).
"Fantastic Beasts" tries very hard to be on the same level as the "Harry Potter" series. Unfortunately, the magic is not as strong and if there is going to be more of these beasts in the future, I hope it brings a fiercer story. However, "Fantastic Beasts" is a nice trip down memory lane for viewers who want to see some old spells being used and some pretty cute beasts locked away in a suitcase.