“Yesterday, a wizard entered New York with a case. A case full of magical creatures. And unfortunately, some have escaped.”
– Porpentina Goldstein
Now, before some of you say that I am not ‘worthy’ to watch this because I have never watched a Potter movie, I have to say that indeed, I have never watched a movie of the famous “Harry Potter” series; still, the premise of “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” intrigues me so, resulting in me wanting to give it a try. Moreover, since this is the prequel of “Harry Potter”, I believe I can safely follow the story of a man trying to catch these little and huge critters (gotta catch’em all! XD )
“Fantastic Beasts and Where and to Find Them” is about Newt Scamander, a former student of Hogwarts (at least I know what that is) who got expelled due to a somehow complicated reason, and is currently in the quest of writing a book about saving and preserving magical creatures roaming around. On his stop in New York, however, several of these creatures inside his suitcase are unintentionally let loose by a Muggle/No-Maj (a person without the capability of magic) named Jacob Kowalski. This incident further prompted Tina Goldstein, a former Auror demoted to a Wand Permit Officer after another incident (so many incidents!), to apprehend Scamander. Gradually, Scamander, along with Tina and Kowalski, would have to re-capture all the missing magical creatures while realizing that they are not the only thing they need to worry about; a mysterious force has been tormenting the city, killing innocents in the process, and our main characters will collide against that very force of darkness.
Being new, I had trouble with the definitions such as “Muggle”and “Auror”, but fortunately, some of these jargon gets explained in the movie, while you will understand several of them through simple guesses, so I appreciate the movie’s attempt to introduce the world of wizardry to newcomers. Granted, you will need additional basic knowledge of the world to fully admire all the references made, but even without it, you shouldn’t feel left out as the movie is more than just a fan-service to Potter fans worldwide.
Combining the simple tale of acquiring magical creatures in interesting fashion with darker introduction to the future plot (yes, J.K. Rowling stated that there will be about five more movies after this), “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” is a magical ride that provides you with colorful and awe-inspiring visuals in the form of the magical creatures; from the overly-attached Bowtruckle, the ‘puffer-lion’ Nundu, the extremely useful Swooping Evil, to the majestic Thunderbird, the movie is brimming with the word ‘fantastic’ by getting to know these unique creatures. Certainly, their screentime may not be much, but during the scenes where Scamander tends for these creatures with Kowalski inside his magical briefcase, I really feel like ‘I want to be there’.
Those creatures still appear from time to time in the movie with various usages, but mostly for comedic scenes (you’ll enjoy Scamander’s pursuit of the adorable Niffler). So if you wish for the creatures to be the primary plot, you might be disappointed; they start the story, assist in solving the problems of the story, provide comical scenes, and a few of them plays a crucial part in the climax, but the primary story is associated with identifying (without intention, at first), a core villain to the movie, and one of the most infamous character in J.K. Rowling’s fictional universe. This makes the movie build up the necessary instruments outside of the ‘fantastic beasts’, and it involves conspiracies and quite an amount of talking (I was a liiiiiiiitle bit sleepy at first, sorry 😦 ).
In my personal opinion, the plot moves rather slowly and the structure is not exactly neat; the movie tries to introduce us to the new characters of the Harry Potter prequel while solving the conflicts big and small, which is fine, but the backgrounds of these characters are provided very little; Scamander’s past is explained in roughly five sentences, and Tina’s reason for her demotion is explained in about two sentences; all of them without any particular clarity. In fact, most of the time is spent on the interactions between several key characters, but during those interactions, I was too busy wondering about the unexplained things to be paying that much of an attention to them. Plus, they are rather unimportant. So basically, I know who the good and bad guys are, but I don’t feel any kind of ‘attachment’ towards them. The movie is like ‘this is the good guy and this is the bad guy’, and then these two forces collide.
The movie provides quite an amount of questions since the beginning without actually answering them (Grindelwald? or do I need to watch the Potter series to understand?), but if you stop thinking, and just look at it in a simple way, that there is a force of good, a force of evil, and understand their respective reasons to act (which might need a liiitle bit of thinking), then “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” is definitely an entertaining movie. I can only believe that the questions are not answered here in order to be answered in future entries.
Rating from me: 3.5/5