Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them introduces a more matured version of the Harry Potter universe. One that’s still a little too fan obliging at the moment.
Wizard and magizoologist Newt Scamander arrives in New York and during an attempt to recapture a Niffler, accidentally swaps suitcases with non-magical baker Jacob Kowalski. More magical creatures escape because of this, and Newt enlists the help of Kowalski, demoted Auror Tina Goldstein, and Goldstein’s sister Queenie to recapture the creatures. Meanwhile, a woman named Mary Lou Barebones campaigns tirelessly to convince the public that New York is under threat from wizards and witches. Her warnings gain legitimacy when various magical disasters wreak havoc across the city.
I watched Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them last Saturday, and I delayed writing about it till now, because I didn’t know what to say.
Oh no, I don’t mean the movie was insipid or terrible. It had a good number of thrilling scenes. Just that, none of these felt particularly memorable. None felt too Harry Potter-like too, if I might so add.
Which is the problem I always have with sequels or revivals of movies I love. One expects so much of the same, while also craving for fresh materials, everything ends up just not feeling right. By that, I mean that while the fan service scenes were pleasing, and while it was refreshing to see a more “adult” version of the wizarding world set in the American Jazz age, something still felt absent. Was it the lack of a tragic orphan backstory? Was it the no-show by a younger Dumbledore? Or was it simply the whole Harry Potter concept being so British, so idiosyncratic, that outside of Britain it just wouldn’t work properly?
I don’t know. To be fair, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is but the first in five planned movies, so I shouldn’t be expecting befuddling conspiracies or epic spell battles. The way the movie ended also left lots of room for sophisticated story development. Hopefully we see more than just glamourous revisits of the HP world in subsequent entries. In addition, I really wouldn’t mind more of those “fantastic beasts,” which was what the movie was branded with. I am sorry to say I was really disappointed no one got snuffed by a Lethifold, or squashed to death by a rampaging Ironbelly.
PS: Another thing that felt “odd” to me was Newt Scamander’s introvert personality. The way he wrote the textbook, I expected an Indy Jones alike explorer, or at least a seasoned diplomat. But perhaps he only evolves into these after his grand adventures. Another reason thus to look forward to the subsequent movies.
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