“Fantastic Beasts” is a movie built for Potter fans


Warner Bros.

The infamous David Yates has returned to the Harry Potter world with his new interpretation of J.K. Rowling’s book, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. Fantastic Beasts is a prequel to the Harry Potter series, so for those who do not know, this means the film does not feature characters like Harry, Hermione, or Ron. The film has an all-star cast, thanks to returning casting director Fiona Weir (Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows), and contains the likes of a certain actor not revealed until the end, so be warned for spoilers.

Among the star-studded cast are Eddie Redmayne (The Danish Girl), Katherine Waterston (Inherent Vice), Colin Farrell (The Lobster), and evidently the most important actor, Ezra Miller (Trainwreck). Eddie Redmayne portrays the main character Newt Scamander, doing a fantastic job at playing the overtly awkward magizoologist. Although Newt Scamander is said to be the main character for the film, it’s arguable that Credence Barebone is the main protagonist, yet you don’t really figure that out until the very end of the film. Ezra Miller’s skin crawling attempt at the introverted individual who is Credence Barebone, gives the film the eeriness it needs.

Colin Farrell portrays Percival Graves for the majority of the film, but it is later figured out that Graves is Gellert Grindelwald, and, in a shocking turn of events, it is revealed that Grindelwald was actually disguising himself, and in truth, was Johnny Depp. Sounds confusing, but the main point is that Johnny Depp was introduced into the film as Gellert Grindelwald and will most likely be portraying him for the remainder of sequels to Fantastic Beasts.

The film has its title taken from the book of the same name by J.K. Rowling; however, it has a plot created entirely on its own. Throughout the film you follow Newt Scamander (Redmayne) on an adventure throughout 1920’s New York City where he has to try to collect all the “fantastic beasts” that have escaped his suitcase. Presumably you would think that’s the only plot in the film, but if you thought that you’d be wrong. The overtly long film also features several other plots along the way, not to mention that some of the plots seem as absurd as the storyline within Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. Aside from having to watch Newt gather his fantastic beasts around the city, you watch the interesting story of Credence and his cult-like family who detest witchcraft. Credence’s character comes off as somewhat of a psychomaniac, and it doesn’t help that there is a secret alliance between him and Gellert Grindelwald.

Costumes and set design are what really sold the film for me: the authenticity of scenery and clothing pieces only made me feel more immersed in the fictitious world. Set in 1926 New York City, old cars added to the rustic feel of old New York while women and men walked about the streets dressed in trench coats and bowler hats. Costume designer Colleen Atwood and set designer Anna Pinnock beautifully teamed up to create an astonishing aesthetic throughout the film that gives the movie an incredible nuance.

The main issue with the film would, overall, have to be the length of it: 2 hours and 13 minutes. That time makes sense considering there are several plots, but that’s just it, there does not need to be several plots. As the first film of five, it seems that J.K. Rowling made the mistake of combining too many problems into only one film. At some points, it’s difficult to grasp what’s going on, especially when you’re watching Newt chasing a beast before the scene cuts to Credence and his family. Had the script been more concise, the film itself would have felt more put together, but because of the planning issue, the film lacks clarity.

It’s easily identifiable that Fantastic Beasts isn’t really a movie for the critics, but for the fans, and if we’re judging the film based on authenticity then Fantastic Beasts would get a 10/10. Watching the film transports you into a different dimension and for the two hours that you watch the movie, it’s easy to admit that you are transported into J.K. Rowling’s imagination. The wands, the spells, the creatures, and so many other details embedded into the movie make up for the plot holes and messy transitions.

Rating: 7/10 – Too many plots because of an unclear script, gorgeous costumes and set design, a well-rounded cast, and authenticity from the world of J.K. Rowling.