Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (2016)
written by J. K. Rowling, based on her novel
directed by David Yates
Rating: 2.5 / 4
I admit I didn’t jump on the Harry Potter bandwagon right when J. K. Rowling started publishing her novels about “the boy who lived” in 1997 (I’m just now reading the first book). I also didn’t feel too intrigued by the first films in the series that began in 2001. They felt kind of clunky to me, devoid of real cinematic magic. But now, after eight movies and a couple of trips to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Orlando, I am more of a fan (the Pottermore Sorting Hat quiz puts me in Slytherin house, although I’d rather be a Ravenclaw).
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is set 70 years before the events of the Harry Potter novels. Brit magizoologist Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne) arrives in New York with a suitcase filled with magical creatures, some of which promptly escape and start to wreak havoc. Newt is accused of working with an evil wizard by the name of Gellert Grindelwald, and with the help of an American witch (Tina Goldstein), her sister (Alison Sudol) and a Muggle baker (Dan Fogler), must race to clear his name and capture the missing beasts. It’s entertaining, but just like those first couple of Harry Potter films, it never quite achieves the whimsical flight of fancy it needs, despite engaging performances from the whole cast. Time will tell if this new series will find its footing.
Carlos I. Cuevas