Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them would make a hell of a TV show. Perhaps on WB’s sister station HBO as a light Game of Thrones replacement. With the steady hand of J.K. Rowling, who opts for a screenplay credit this time instead of a guiding hand, this series by now is so fantastical and mythologically realized that I now believe any character could be securely transported to the wizarding world.
The muggle or in this case “no-mag” who acts as our surrogate is Kowalski (Dan Fogler graduating in his acting career) a factory worker who has hopes of opening his own pastry shop when he accidentally switches cases with Newt Scamander, an odd wizard visiting stateside in 1920’s Manhattan hoping to conduct research on magical creatures. All heck breaks loose out of his suitcase and an adventure involving various magical creatures, wonderful displays of CGI and humour, darkness and mystery are abound in this 132 minute tale.
I’d explain the side plot if it mattered but you can decide to see it for yourself. The movie is an enchanting picture with amazing production value, only it lacks some serious stakes. Its characters bore despite potential and don’t seem to have much of a drive. Irregardless of major events they still calmly trot from place to place. They drop character hints about each other and we learn some intriguing background information but it all seems like needless fan service, though in this case delivered with more assurance and aplomb than Rogue One had, arguably due to the presence of its original creator.
Director David Yates (Harry Potter 5-8) returns to the world that gave him his career and he seems to know the place so well that I can’t help but feel following his last effort Tarzan (his only major non-Potter movie to date) that he takes the audience for granted. It is not that the audience has any trouble figuring out what’s happening, its that it simply would have been more effective had more moments been shown on-screen rather than implied. An investigator (Katherine Waterson) finally confronting the two fugitives she’s been pursuing for one deserved a bigger payoff. Additionally perhaps if Scamander had any personal connection to the antagonist the finale would have had a greater impact. Again the TV show argument comes up as this world feels perfectly lived in and would be nice to return to thirty minutes a week. I roll my eyes at the five film franchise plan in place for this series. Audiences love Harry Potter and want more of that world but a more involving story should be told. I just don’t think as welcoming as us fans are we aren’t going to stick around for more of films that are this slight. The franchise absence is what propped up the grosses this time around, but look for diminishing returns from here on out.
I must say though the one thing this series entry does admirably is distinguish itself from its most famous character. Having nothing to do with him is the proper attitude and having other things go on on without him makes the world bigger and more vital. The intrigue at this proposition is why my attention held for as long as it did, though I can’t say the same for my dad. Still if the ride along is this smooth I can’t complain too much. The music is nice; James Newton Howard the third famous composer (and one of my favourites) to work on the series doesn’t commit the tired trope of endlessly rehashing the same theme. Enigmatic of the film’s mission statement: a little new, polite and pretty package goes a long way. I just hope for the franchise’s future it doesn’t overstay its welcome.
Continuum Scale: -3 -2 -1 0 +1 +2 +3
It girl: Katherine Waterston (upcoming Alien: Covenant) has wonderfully sad eyes
Her co-star and on-screen sister Alsion Sudol has a Rachel Weisz like quality of appeal
I decided beforehand regardless of any interruptions I wouldn’t ask anyone to be quiet. As a result someone else stood up and spoke out asking the folks next to me to check and see and turn off a possibly activated phone alarm causing a disturbance. Funny how that works. My dad said he hadn’t seen anything like it.
The picture quality like in Rogue One was weak, funny how Cineplex seems to have good sound and Landmark Cinemas good picture but neither has the other. Its pretty shoddy and lame if you ask me.