Movie Reviews: Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them




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     Warner Bros. (2hr 13 mins.)
     A wizard and a human must capture magical monsters set free on New York City.
     Eddie Redmayne, Katherine Waterston, Colin Farrell, Dan Fogler, Fine Frenzy, Samantha Morton, Carmen Ejogo, Johnny Depp
Bottom Line:

Khaleel Herbert

It’s been five years since Harry Potter and his friends were on the silver screen. Now J.K. Rowling invites us back to the wizarding world before Harry Potter in “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.”

Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne) arrives in New York City with a briefcase full of magical creatures. One of the creatures, who is fond of money and other shiny things, escapes from the briefcase and runs amok in a bank. Newt runs after him and meets muggle (non-wizard) Jacob Kowalski (Dan Fogler). Jacob is trying to get a loan from the bank to open his own bakery.

While in pursuit of the trickster creature, Newt casts a spell on Jacob. If you remember the Harry Potter films, exposing magic to muggles is a big no-no. The two separate and Newt thinks he’s off the hook. Porpentina Goldstein (Katherine Waterston), an aura for a magical order in New York, takes him into custody.

Meanwhile, Jacob returns to his modest apartment with a briefcase he had filled with delicious pastries. As he turns his back, the briefcase suddenly moves. Jacob looks and is suddenly attacked by extraordinary creatures.

Newt asks Jacob for help in retrieving the beasts before they expose the wizarding world.

The spells are accurate, the creatures are well-animated and the original theme song from the Harry Potter films is there. Alas, not even Johnny Depp could save this movie.

“Fantastic Beasts” doesn’t do the job of a prequel movie. A prequel movie should explain how things in the original movie happened. It should make the audience say, “Oh, that’s how that happened” Or “That’s why he acts that way.” These characters are brand new. We don’t even hear about Lord Voldemort or Lily and James Potter. I wished Credence (Ezra Miller) was Tom Riddle or Severus Snape as a child. 

There are two or three references to Hogwarts, but that’s all. The perfect Harry Potter prequel should explain the life of the well-known characters like Albus Dumbledore, Snape and even Voldemort. There should be three movies, tops. Not five.

They’re not even in London, for God’s sake! Newt is the only one who has an English accent, which utterly ruins the film.

J.K. Rowling, who wrote this screenplay, should have sat with Director David Yates and took notes on the “Star Wars” prequels. These prequels explained how Jedi Anakin Skywalker became Darth Vader in three movies. Heck, “The Hobbit” was only three movies.

Bottom line, a prequel should make people want to revisit the original film(s). “Fantastic Beasts” doesn’t do this.  I’ll gladly stick with the eight Harry Potter films and call it a day, thank you!

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