Review: Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them (2016)

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This spin-off from Harry Potter – scripted by J.K. Rowling – is occasionally charming, sometimes too flimsy. Instead of the Boy Who Lived, our hero is Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne), an eccentric wizard on stopover in New York whose collection of magical beasts – of which come in all different sizes, some friendly and others not so much – is unintentionally unleashed. The ensuing drama, aside from a few dazzling set pieces involving the recapturing of those runaway creatures, lacks momentum and suspense. Rowling’s script is insubstantial, particularly when it comes to the characters, who aren’t awarded much in the way of backstory. Redmayne is charming enough as Newt, while Katherine Waterston stands out amongst the extensive supporting cast. But there’s no emotional connection to be made, making it difficult for the audience to invest in the characters and their motivations. As comforting as it is to be back in a familiar universe, and as well designed as 1920s New York is, this sadly isn’t an expansion that’s entirely worthwhile.

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  1. While I do agree with much of this from a critical point of view, I don’t quite think “insubstantial” is a deserving descriptor because much of the backstory and holes left is (I believe) fodder for the upcoming movies. They also give many tie-ins with the original series which I guess appeals directly to its core audience. But yes: momentum, suspense, emotional attachment are all valid observations.

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