You could say that Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them is a dazzling expansion of J.K. Rowling’s world of “Pottermore” and you’d be right. You could also say that the film is an extremely careful, corporately crafted franchise launch, and you’d be equally correct. How it hits you will depend, largely, on what relationship you already have with the source material. One wouldn’t have to be a Potter fan to enjoy Fantastic Beasts, but it would certainly help to bring a romance for the works of Ms. Rowling already in one’s heart. I’m finding that the former group is enthusiastically willing to overlook the movie’s few shortcomings -- shortcomings like the pacing in the middle and the episodic nature of J.K.’s occasionally clumsy screenplay. Still, there’s plenty to like here.
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
In short, the story takes place in 1926 America when the sorcerer societies of Britain and the United States converge for the purpose of harnessing magical beasts. That’s all you need to know.
While Fantastic Beasts is a lot of fun, it is impossible not to get the feeling you’re seeing a pilot episode of a series which will improve in the next installments -- kind of like the Potter films themselves. And, just like those movies, it’s the casting that smooths out any rough spots in the launch, particularly the supporting players. In fact, the relationship between the two secondary characters (portrayed by Alison Sudol and Dan-finally-gonna-be-a-star-Fogler) was my single favorite thing about the movie. Not only were both actors engaging, but they also did a great job of invoking the period of the mid-1920s.
Now, for the part no one’s going to agree with me about: I can’t stand Eddie Redmayne in this movie. Much like a singer can drag the beat of a song by constantly “back-phrasing” a melody, Redmayne has this annoying tick of beginning a sentence of dialogue, taking a ridiculously pregnant pause, then proceeding while twisting one side of his face like a stroke victim. I kept getting the feeling like director David Yates kept saying “act adorable”. Eddie picks a note with his characterizations (albeit a good note) and just keeps hitting it. Over and over and over.
Despite the fact that, like too many movies, the CGI button is hit too loud and way too hard, way too early, there is still plenty of fun and magic to recommend this picture. And, while darker than the initial Potter entries, you could still take a ten year old and not worry.
Yeah, go see it.
(Loudinni specializes in reviews under 500 words, sans spoilers.)