Anytime the Wizarding World comes into fruition in cinematic form is a joyous time, especially considering that the Harry Potter franchise has had a pretty incredible record free of any duds or dull entries. Having David Yates return to direct this one after having directed four previous Harry Potter films must excite one even more and then looking at the fact that the cast includes Eddie Redmayne, Katherine Waterston, Colin Farrell, and Ezra Miller rockets those expectations. Thankfully, David Yates meets not only meets those expectations but does such an amazing job in crafting yet another amazing adventure in theWizarding World that we’re now ready to get to see what comes next.
Regularly I’d take a different stance regarding films that only set up for the sequel, but the way Yates and Rowling did it was so tactfully done that I didn’t mind the fact that they were laying the groundwork for future installments. The reason Fantastic Beasts work whilst setting up for the sequel is because its existence isn’t reliant on that of the sequel’s. Unlike films such as Maze Runner whose entire purpose hinges on the next chapter, Fantastic Beasts is an entertaining film on its own that also happens to be prepared to explore new ground in the future. In her screenwriting debut, Rowling intelligently decides to plant seeds instead of obsessing on what’s to come and Yates does a great job adapting this, dedicating an equal amount of effort to Newt Scamander’s quest to recapture his magical creatures and the underlying threat of Grindelwald.
As I happened to mention previously, this film’s cast is off the charts and everyone’s presence is felt. Eddie Redmayne as Newt Scamander is a great choice, the dude is just so likable that you’ll follow him anywhere. He also does a rather great job acting against CGI, making every scene where he interacts with his beloved beasts believable. Dan Fogler who I wasn’t that on board with initially also does a great job playing the no-maj who’s basically our entry point into this new iteration of the Wizarding World. Sometimes he goes a bit overboard with his reactions to his surroundings, but he’s always fun and ends up being one of the most compelling character’s of the film. Off the success of his amazing turn in this year’s The Lobster, Colin Farrell is great in this film. Farrell plays an auror which is the equivalent of a high profile police/investigator in the Wizarding World and he brings a bravado to his performance that makes him intimidating and powerful, making his every move all the more resonant. But no film is perfect and Fantastic Beasts does have some negative. Its not necessarily that the acting isn’t there because it clearly is, but the problem here is that its not taken opportunity of. Now this happens for both Katherine Waterston and Ezra Miller who are both fantastic actors who’re either reduced to cartoons, playing very one-dimensional characters or their characters’ roles being rather insignificant.
One of my biggest worries watching the previews for this film was how the creatures would look and the misuse of CGI, but the special effects team is wonderful here and Yates proves he knows how to use their special effects by crafting some really fun and action-based sequences around the capturing of these creatures. Speaking of action, David Yates does an incredible job in finding a way to combine both humor and stakes into the scenes involving the capturing of the fantastic beasts. He also knows to not include that humor into some of the more dramatic battles that involve the presence of dark magic, making those primarily based on stakes.
All in all, Fantastic Beasts proves do be an engrossing and entertaining film all the way through. Not only is it a great film by itself, but it also manages to do some planning ahead without detracting from the viewing experience. Everyone in the cast does as they’re supposed to do, meaning some excel in their roles and others are limited by their roles’ significance. David Yates direction of the project is as great as it was when he directed the last four Harry Potter films, as he manages to adapt Rowling’s script properly and balance the Newt’s adventure with Grindelwald’s tale. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is another charming venture into the Wizarding World that proves there’s still a lot more to explore in this universe and just how fun this world is.