This film already had three pretty massive strikes against it before I even sat down.
Strike 1) Franchise desperate Warner Bros has already green-lit 4 sequels before even seeing the opening weekends box-office.
Strike 2) The last time a franchise that’s made more money than God released prequels- it was Star Wars. How did that work out for film?
Strike 3) The trailer made this look less like a film than the first episode of an on-going series. More interested in setting up plots and to be resolved character arcs than in telling a complete and satisfying story of its own.
That this film completely knocks it for six is it’s only saving grace.
And I mean knocks it for six. There is more energy, fun and wonder in one five minute sequence set in a suitcase of all things then there was in every single blockbuster I’ve seen this year.
This film is endlessly fun, enchanting and just a joy to watch.
It remembers that bigger and bigger explosions do not make for a film that people enjoy. I liked very single major character in this film. And whilst Eddie Redmayne is perfectly cast as Newt Scamander – playing him basically as Doctor Who as a wizard, for my money though, the film is stolen by Dan Fogler as Kowalski, a muggle who is basically kidnapped and ends up coming along for the ride.
But I got seriously annoyed that a franchise which prided itself on using as much practical effects as they could get away with has now turned pretty much everything into CGI. Not a single creature was a puppet or animatronic and whilst most of them did look very good, a few did make me wonder how much of the films 180 million dollar budget went on them.
Also, the film seems to have a serious issue with tone. We spend five minutes with Newt seeing all manner of wonders and probably something very funny when all of a sudden a switch is flipped and we wind up in a different, rather gritty film featuring beaten children and a villain that the film cant decide whether or not to keep secret or not.
Yeah, what passes for the plot is this film is a complete mess. Please, if you work out what it was then do tell me in the comments section below. The film sufferers from a few too many characters as well but I guess they will be expanded upon in future episodes/films. But for this film? We don’t get any more than one note characters and sometimes not even that. For all the films visual wonders, its the actors charisma that makes this superb film more than the lines that they have been given to say. Give whoever did the casting for this film a raise.
And yes, that is Ron Pearlman in that scene. No, I don’t know how they got him either. Maybe he’ll play a bigger part in the next few episodes.
Whilst the script and tone are all over the place and there are way too many characters to allow any of them time to fully develop Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is a wonderful film I laughed, smiled, and saw a world of endless wonder and hope, which when set against not only the films of this year but the whole climate of 2016 means that a film about coming and working together is very refreshing.
Hell, Potter veteran David Yates even makes the 3d seem essential. And I havent thought that since Dredd way back in 2012! God what I wouldn’t give for four sequels to that under-rated masterpiece…
Oh and did I mention James Newton Howard’s absolutely sublime soundtrack? Because it’s awesome.
My Score- See It