* BE WARNED, THERE MAY BE SPOILERS *
5 years after fans around the world finally saw Harry defeat “He Who Must Not Be Named”, we once again dive head first into the Wizarding World. But it is not without its faults.
“Fantastic Beast and Where To Find Them”, based on a textbook from the original HP series is the beginning of another adventure in the much wider world of witchcraft and wizardry.
For one, we are no longer confined to Britain, but rather go across the pond to America. And as in real life, the cultural differences even in the wizarding world will come into play as story elements. From names like No-Maj (Non-magical folk) vs Muggles, to the acceptance of no-maj and the magical relations, all will be very fresh and new.
This will also be the first time J.K. Rowling will personally pen the screenplay compared to the previous HP films. Coupled that with Oscar winner Eddie Redmayne, fans are sure to be entertained if not entirely consumed by the wonder.
The story starts off with Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne) arriving in 1926 America with his suitcase of fantastic beasts. An as anyone can guess this is a recipe for all that will ensue. Being that the story takes place in 1926, all that we know and are familiar with of the magical world is further unbalanced.
In 1926, the magical world does not look kindly on magical beasts. The existence of the magical community is known to the governments, but regular people still are oblivious. The belief of evil witchcraft by regular people are still taken with certain credibility vs crackpot insanity in modern times. And the lack of connectedness and information of the world sets the tone and landscape for all that can happen and also the believability of it all.
Rather than go into a play by play of the story I will focus on my reaction to the film.
In general, as fan of the previous films, I enjoyed the new wonders of and the possibility of FBAWTFT. There is certainly more than enough magic to satisfy any fan. And on that alone I think it should be checked out. Where it does fall short, is on the pacing and exposition.
I will chalk this up to Rowling’s lack of screenplay experience since dir David Yates did a fantastic job, in my opinion, on the original HP series. There are moments that seem to drag on a bit too long focusing more on the whimsy and the fantastical than on story. Don’t get me wrong though, those fantastical set pieces themselves are done masterfully, but I just think it was at the expense of story and pacing.
Further to that the exposition in this case was a bit to thin, to the point where everything seemed to whiz by leaving the audience wondering why something happened. This is somewhat remedied for the hardcore fan looking for explanations of the creatures, on www.pottermore.com . But for the average viewer and regular fan a lot will got over there heads or lose some of the “magic”.
With that said, credit does need to go to Rowling for essentially doing it again. She has created a whole new world for the fans of HP to delve into. Many of whom, have grown up with the books and the movies and long for more. And in her defense, this is only the beginning. Lots of seeds have been planted and hopefully will blossom.
The star studded cast surely have signed on to make numerous appearances in the follow up movies in which 4 are planned so far.
So even with the “but…”, I’m actually confident that it will only get better. Treat it more like the first chapter of a book, this was only a very brief taste of what is to come. So i for one will anxiously await the next installment and until then…
Oh BTW, look out for Johnny Depp ( There is your spoiler ) :