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Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them Movie Review

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Five years later we are officially back in the Harry Potter universe! This time, Harry Potter has nothing to do with the story, so we’re going to travel back in time and see what wizardry was like in 1926. I’m kind of happy to be back in this universe. I’m not a huge Harry Potter fan. In fact, my anticipation level wasn’t really that high going into this movie, but I was still happy to see a new movie like this. I was actually really surprised to see that the crowd wasn’t very hyped up at my screening. I know there is a huge fan base for the Harry Potter universe, so I can’t tell if people are just not excited for this or if Harry Potter fans just aren’t bringing it. Either way, I did get to see the film, so let’s talk about it!

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is directed by David Yates and stars Eddie Redmayne, Katherine Waterston, Alison Sudol, Dan Fogler, Collin Farrell, and Ezra Miller. Newt Scamander has made his way to the middle of New York City from England with his brief case of beasts. Unfortunately, after a run in with a muggle, he loses his beasts and gets in trouble with the wizard law enforcement for almost exposing wizardry. With the help of some brand new friends, Newt must find his beasts and escape the law.

I’m not a big Harry Potter fan at all. I’ve never read the books, and I’ve only seen every movie once without feeling a serious need to go back to them, but I have to say that I really liked this movie! I had a ton of fun with it! I think that not getting a steady flow of Harry Potter movies over recent years made getting back into this world even more fun. I love the way David Yates builds worlds, and I think that this movie excels when it goes all-in on the magic. The second half of the film where we get down to the action and the magic is just so much fun to watch, and all of the new characters really bring the movie to life. I think all of the actors were great as well. We know Eddie Redmayne can act, but it’s nice to see him doing something that isn’t a depressing yet uplifting biopic. I also loved Dan Fogler as the muggle. Dan Fogler looked kind of familiar to me, but I can’t say I knew anything about him as an actor before the movie. I loved him, and I think he’s the reason that the comedy worked so well. Finally, I think they did a good job with the times. I actually felt like I was watching the Harry Potter universe in 1926, and I bought the premise from the opening where I was absolutely sucked in by the setup.

This movie was a ton of fun, but I did have a few problems with it. First of all, every single villain in this movie is really weak from a character depth perspective. All of the villains are your typical deep voiced monsters who overpower everyone or just display hate, and they didn’t have anything to them. Next, I thought that it had a little bit of the modern Young Adult feel. That’s not something I felt in an overpowering way in the Harry Potter series which is why I think those movies don’t put the same taste in your mouth as Divergent, Twilight, or The Maze Runner, but there were moments where I felt that in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. I also felt like it took the entire first half for the movie to reach its maximum potential. The first half was definitely much flatter than the second half, but once we saw the magic of this Harry Potter universe, it completely flipped the switch and I enjoyed every minute of what was left of the runtime. Finally, Newt Scamander has less depth than I was hoping for. I wasn’t completely tied to his character, and we don’t explore him much. I think he has tons of potential, and I hope we get to see more of what he has to offer in the next movie, or as J.K. Rowling says, the next four movies.

Overall, I had a ton of fun with Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. It’s so nice to be back in this world with David Yates leading the way. He did such a great job introducing the times and where we were in this universe, and I think my favorite part of the film was just getting back to this magic. I really liked Eddie Redmayne in the role, and Dan Fogler blew my mind. The visuals are great, and the second half is so entertaining. It had a little bit of the Young Adult feel with extremely weak villains, and the first half of the film wasn’t anywhere near the quality of the second half of the film. Newt Scamander as a character was a bit flatter than I was hoping for, but I think he has plenty of future potential. I’m going to give Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them a 7.4/10.

Will you be checking out Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them? Comment down in the comment section and let me know what you thought! There are plenty of reviews to come this week for movies like The Edge of Seventeen, Bleed for This, La La Land, Manchester by the Sea, and Nocturnal Animals, so be sure to stick around for all of them! As always, thank you, and keep listening to 88.7 The Pulse!

PHOTO: Fandango

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Justin Lyons

Hey, it's Justin Lyons! I am the Chief Film Critic for The Pulse. Have any questions for me? Please feel free to email me at movies@pulseradio.fm