Guest Movie Review: Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

imageBy Eli Sanchez Guest Contributor, Silver Screen Capture

David Yates’ prequel to the Harry Potter series, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (C-) changes the Wizarding World setting from mainly rural Great Britain to 1920’s New York City. The film follows the exploits of Newt Scamander, author of the famous book on which that the title is based. Played by a very lost Eddie Redmayne, Newt visits the U.S. to talk to someone about acquiring another creature for his menagerie. The film is a series of misadventures with Newt losing control of some of the magical creatures he keeps locked away in his secretive suitcase. Yates struggles with finding the movie’s rhythm, with head-scratching acting choices and throwaway romantic subplots, leaving viewers unsure most of the time about what’s going on in the background. If you’ve read the original book series, some of the references will make sense; and in essence this first prequel feels very much like a set-up for four future installments. But, this entry takes too long to pick up steam. The action picks up considerably in the final act. The film has superb special effects but fails to conjure the magic associated with the best of the Harry Potter series. In fairness, we know nothing about The Boy Who Lived at this point in the timeline, and children who grew up on the series may be a bit disappointed. Future installments will likely involve the re-emergence of Albus Dumbledore and a more substantial look at Gellert Grindlewald. The promise of the film is diminished by a storyline as underwhelming and confounding as the performances of some of its cast members. Elements of the film felt very derivative of both Return of the Jedi and The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus.

I've reviewed films for more than 20 years. Current movie reviews of new theatrical releases and direct-to-video or streaming films are added weekly to the Silver Screen Capture movie news site. Many capsule critiques originally appeared in expanded form in my syndicated Lights Camera Reaction column.

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Posted in 2016

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