When a money-making film franchise ends, a studio is usually at a loss. Wondering whether to create a new series or continue the existing one is something many executives have had to ponder. Considering how huge the ‘Harry Potter’ brand name is, it was a no-brainer it would continue in some form. ‘Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them’ arrives as an answer to the studio’s prayers. A prequel to the ‘Harry Potter’ series and based on J.K. Rowling’s book, it will no doubt extend the money machine for a while yet.
Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne) is a shy wizard arriving in 1920’s New York. An employee of the British Ministry of Magic, he has been sent to uncover more spells and creatures for his homeland. Meeting Porpentina (Katherine Waterson), a boisterous witch keen on enhancing her powers, Newt becomes involved with a myriad of spell-binding mayhem. With goblins, ghosts and even scarier politicians on his tail, Newt has to work hard to ensure his mission is a success.
Directed by ‘Harry Potter’ regular David Yates, ‘Fantastic Beasts’ is a muddled brew. Whilst the imaginative CGI is incredible and the performances are fine, the story and atmosphere is flat. For a movie wanting to begin a potential franchise ‘Fantastic Beasts’ goes the wrong way about it. Dour, gloomy and wallowing in misery, the narrative only picks up in the last half hour. Until then it’s an endless parade of creatures for Newt to capture with the elongated exposition tiresome.
Maybe one can blame Rowling who wrote the screenplay or Yates who refuses to give the story much needed colour. Tonally it’s all over the place with little to fascinate younger viewer to whom the Potter series has been aimed. Although it has several negatives, ‘Fantastic Beasts’ boasts a good cast. Redmayne and Waterson are solid anchors to a tale featuring shy people banding together to defeat evil. This makes viewing worthwhile even during the slowly paced moments, of which there are many.
‘Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them’ is neither fish nor fowl. Not as memorable as any ‘Harry Potter’ movie, it fails to fully function as its own entity. Its last act is exciting making one wish the previous sections were of its standards. That won’t stop sequels with the machine sure to roll on as long as money is delivered to producer’s coffers.
Movie Review Rating out of 10: 6
Movie Review by Patrick Moore
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