By Cynthia Ayala
“The adventures of writer Newt Scamander in New York’s secret community of witches and wizards seventy years before Harry Potter reads his book in school.”
In one word: magical. I know that’s to be expected but the film brings more to the world of Harry Potter as it traverses new territory in so many ways.
Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them brings Newt Scamander to New York city combining the dark element’s that grew the Harry Potter franchise up as well as a fun light scavenger hunt through New York to bring new and magical creatures to life in the film. Two stories that intersect perfectly. There are obviously those moments that will make the audience want to scream but that’s only because of the direction of the story, and it’s not a bad thing. In life, there are those moments when people above station place blame when they themselves don’t pay attention. It’s not a bad thing, it’s a realistic thing that provides the film one of many grounding moments. (There were times through all the Harry Potter books and films that I just wanted to scream at the characters for being stupid.) Then there is the heart of the film that will make the audience laugh, cry and just say “aww” repeatedly. It was a well-structured film that was just mesmerizing and it makes the viewer second guess themselves.
There’s a sense of predictability but it vanishes as quickly as it comes and the viewer is left to watch the film unfold as it does. That’s just great storytelling that makes this film so enjoyable because while the drama is there, it doesn’t drown the viewer, it makes those precious happy moments – and the film – even more enjoyable.
Brilliantly storytelling aside, because Rowling just has a gift, the casting was also excellent. With one minor exception, but I’ll get to that in a second. Eddie Redmayne is amazing! He has such a quirkiness about him that makes the character incredibly admirable. Scamander is a charm, he acts and blunders but has such a bug and humble heart to him that Redmayne brings to life so wonderfully. He has great chemistry with his fellow cast members and is just a joy to watch. Ezra Miller, perfect cheekbones aside, was also very powerful. He’s in the movie, somewhat broken, and he makes the audience pity vouch for him – root for him – because his performance is just so powerful. He’s and intense actor and his portrayal of the character brings out a deeper side of who he is, highlighting his talent. As for Colin Ferrell, I love this man. He’san extraordinary actor adding to the star power of the film and it’s so hard to figure out what side his character is on. He keeps the audience and his fellow characters on their toes. If you ask me, he should be Grindelwald, not Depp. I have issues with Depp, and it’s not because of his domestic abuse incident, it has to do with who he has become. There was once a time I thought he was so brilliant, but there is an anger I see in this man who doesn’t seem to be able to keep that from affecting his acting. It has made him, well, mediocre. Many if you may disagree and that’s fine, this is a review, an opinion, and it’s mine. Replacing Ferrell with him, after seeing Ferrell’s performance is disappointing. If you ask me, Ferrell should have been Grindelwald. (Also the golden rule of HP films has been broken – only British Isles actors for those characters, no Americans playing Brits). So I think the roles should have been reversed. Personally.
Biases aside, this was such a well-done film. It was wonderful. Was it as better than the previous Harry Potter films? I honestly can’t say. There are parts that are and then there are parts that are on par. It has the magic, it has the Wonder, and it has the heart. For me, that’s enough to make me love it. (★★★★ | A)
Directed by David Yates
Written by J. K. Rowling
Distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures