Review – Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (2016)

fantastic-beasts-and-where-to-find-them-563ce10abb3ee

Snape…Snape…Severus Snape.

DUMBLEDORE!

fantastic-beasts-and-where-to-find-them-58b1cd8cbe6fdWhat’s up, Harry Potter fans!? If you are unfamiliar with the Harry Potter franchise, go ahead and do yourself a favor: watch it now. No, it’s not even remotely important to watch them before Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, but it is also important to know what the real wizarding world is supposed to feel like. This film does the whole spinoff thing, so don’t expect it to BE Harry Potter without Harry Potter. There is way more to it than that. It feels like it’s own thing, but the real question is…how does that affect your love for the Potter-verse? Good question. So, let’s get right into it.

The year is 1926 and Newt Scamander has just completed a global excursion to find and document an extraordinary array of magical creatures. Arriving in New York for a brief stopover, he might have come and gone without incident…were it not for a No-Maj (American for Muggle) named Jacob, a misplaced magical case, and the escape of some of Newt’s fantastic beasts, which could spell trouble for both the wizarding and No-Maj worlds. – IMDb

PEOPLE
★★★★★★★☆☆☆

 

This category is all about the people in the film. This covers their acting ability, if the characters themselves are any good, if they work well together as a team, if they are deeper or flatter as characters, and if the casting director even did their job right. These are all very important issues to consider while reviewing film.
  1.  Acting: ★★
    • Dun, dun, dun! First up is acting, one of the most important elements to not just any movie, but certainly for a film that’s already greenlit for an entire series! There’s supposed to something like five movies coming out, so you better believe acting is important, and as such, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them did have some interesting acting techniques, all of which are arguably pretty decent. Though, as it turns out, it’s not really the acting that we have to worry about, it’s more…character.
  2. Characters: ★☆
    • When I watched the first Hobbit movie, I was extremely worried about the characters side of things, because everyone really just blended together. Like Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find them, the acting was fine, but the characters were vastly different than they potentially could have been. The characters in this film are just fine. I did like Newt, but I can’t say I really liked him more than anyone in the Potter series, either. The other characters are, in my opinion, rather forgettable, including Dan Fogler’s character, and Colin Farrell’s character. Heck, even most of the beasts. There was something missing about these characters, so I have to say one star.
  3. Good Casting: ★☆
    • With casting, I’m honestly not sure anyone really fit their characters THAT well. They all did a fine job, but I’m pretty sure you could re-cast most anyone and I’d barely even notice unless I remembered them based on their fame rather than their character. I would say anyone did a bad job in their role, because I don’t think that’s true…it’s just…not perfect.
  4.  Good Importance: ★★
    • Regardless of how great or bad they are, they all had a separate role to play in this film, as well as a reason to be there in the first place.  I mean, I’m still trying to figure out why Newt was even in America to begin with, that’s still lost on me, but other than that, I think the importance is certainly there.
  5.  Good chemistry: ★☆
    • To be perfectly honest with you guys, I almost didn’t give the chemistry portion any stars, but no one really had any believable chemistry.  It’s not like they couldn’t work together, they just could’ve been better. I ultimately gave this one star, because there was chemistry when it came to the creatures and Newt. He was basically Hagrid when it came to his love for beasts, so there’s that. One star there.

WRITING
★★★★★★★★★

 

This category obviously covers the writing aspect of the critique. First, you want to know a little bit about the script. Specifically, how is the dialogue? Are they saying anything memorable or inspirational…or was it just a bland conversation to keep the story going? How was the story itself? Was it well-balanced or over-convoluted? Was it original? Was it even interesting? Once again, all very important questions
  1.  Dialogue: ★★
    • I will say, however, there were some memorable lines in there. That doesn’t really surprise me, because that’s one of J.K. Rowling’s best abilities, to create some really smart dialogue, no matter how good or bad her project be, whether it’s another book or another movie, she does have a special gift.
  2.  Good Balance: ★★
    • There’s always a particular good vs. evil story in these Potter-verse stories, which provides a really balanced story, but I was really wondering how they’d really do that without Voldemort being the supreme baddie and source of pure evil. Well, the answer is – nothing matches Voldemort, but the bad guy here wasn’t too terrible. I’d put them in the Sirius Black category if Sirius was as bad as they said he was. Off-topic, it was balanced.
  3.  Good Story: ★☆
    • The story could have used some help. I didn’t know why Newt was in New York in the first place. If they explained that, it was subtle enough for me to miss it. I didn’t like the setting, either. By setting, I don’t mean New York, I mean the time period of 1926. There are a time and place for older time periods, and in my opinion, a Harry Potter-themed thing should really be a sequel, not a prequel. One of the strongest things it did was create stories and characters that people could relate to. How are you going to relate to 20s-style things unless you’re old…or dead? So not a lot of relatable things going on. One star.
  4.  Originality: ★★
    • I can’t really say I’ve seen a movie where anything like this ever happened before, not even in a Harry Potter movie, so that’s a plus, right? The originality?
  5.  Interesting: ★★
    • Of course it’s interesting, there’s still magic involved with these fantastic beasts, who have just gone missing. You have to see what happens next, don’t ya? Two stars there.

BEHIND-THE-SCENES
★★★★★★★★★☆

 

Never forget that there are hard-working individuals working on this film day in and day out. It’s a great story, yes, but people helped make that possible. People like the directors, who have to take written word on a script, and somehow translate that for the big screen in a way an audience would understand. Editors, who are given a ton of material and expected to further make that idea and image the director has already – into a reality, like the director of photography, whose job is to make this movie look amazing…whether that means natural settings and landscapes, CGI, 3D, technical effects, or otherwise. The production crew, who are in charge of making advertisements that aren’t false, and don’t give too much away. Finally, the sound crew, who are in charge of everything the audio has – sound effects, sound editing, music, you name it. These are all puzzle pieces.
  1. Visuals: ★★
    • Yes, of course, visuals get full points here, there are some extremely awesome visuals going on. That being said, there is some arguably bad/unrealistic stuff happening too, because they maybe had too much ambition in the CGI department. I wouldn’t say it was bad enough to dock a star though, so that’s why we’re staying at two.
  2.  Directing: ★★
    • This had to be a strange script to work with because it’s full of its own creative stride. I will say, the director did a pretty good job with what they were given, so I gotta give them props.
  3.  Editing: ★★
    • Editing was smooth and stitched together in a satisfactory way. Two stars here as well.
  4.  Advertisement: ★☆
    • Now, when it comes to the advertisement, I feel like it was advertised for a more Harry Potter-friendly audience. Meaning, you were going to watch this, and even though it wasn’t going to have Harry Potter, it’ll still feel like that universe, and because I couldn’t connect with the setting very much, I believe it lost some of that Potter-verse feeling. So for that, I’m docking one star.
  5.  Music: ★★
    • The intro started out with the traditional Harry Potter theme that moved into its own unique composition for this new series. This was to mark the transition and to present something new. Apart from that, I can say there were some pretty good songs that were composed here, just like Harry Potter did. Two stars.

NARRATIVE ARC
★★★★★★★★★

 

Have you ever been left wondering what it was about a film that felt…off, but you couldn’t place what it was? Well, a lot of people actually aren’t educated on the traditional narrative arc structure – which is seen in almost every movie or book story. With a missing piece, you might not understand what feels missing.
  1.  Introduction: ★★
    • The introduction to Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them introduced the audience to the 1926 setting in New York, and to the main players, which is a perfect introduction
  2.  Inciting Incident/Crossing the Threshold: ★★
    • The inciting incident was when Newt and Kowalski switch briefcases, and the crossing of the threshold comes down to when the beasts are actually released from the briefcase and out into the world…or just New York, that is.
  3.  Obstacles: ★★
    • When you have a bunch of “fantastic” beasts that have escaped, and you have to retrieve them, there’s naturally bound to be obstacles as you track each one down and attempt to capture it again.
  4.  Epiphany/Climax: ★★
    • One of the better things this world consistently does is make some really cool-looking climaxes or end fights. I wouldn’t say they really matched the greatness of the Harry Potter series, but it had it’s own epic feel to it.
  5.  Falling Action: ★★
    • Finally, the falling action. That’s the thing about J.K. Rowling’s stuff, her stories of good vs. evil or similar – are all very basic when it comes to the structure of the story, and this movie is no exception. All of the elements for the narrative arc are all intact and unwavering. Two stars for all of these.

OVERALL ENTERTAINMENT
★★★★☆☆☆☆☆☆

 

Here’s something most critics overlook because they’re always so keyed in on critiquing the technical elements of a film. Well, that may be statistically accurate, but the numbers that are released aren’t always reflective of what we enjoyed about it…which is when we say the movie was under-appreciated or whatever. This category focuses on pure entertainment.
  1.  Rewatchability: ★☆
    • Now, I would definitely say I’d watch this again, but not for a while. The two instances I could see myself watching it would either be a Harry Potter re-watch or when the next movie is about to be released, and I may not…it all depends on my mood. So for that reason, I’m giving this one star.
  2.  Fun: ★☆
    • The next question has to do if it’s fun or not. Well, all the Harry Potter movies are a ton of fun, but is Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them as much fun? To me, it really wasn’t. Instead, there were fun moments here and there that I really enjoyed, but I didn’t get into this like I did with Harry Potter. One star.
  3.  Impulse to buy it: ☆
    • No, this is more of a rent it movie. However, the rest of the series might be amazing, in which, I would include this as a series bundle, but on it’s own…nah. Not here. No stars.
  4.  Impulse to talk to someone about it: ★☆
    • Yeah, I think I would have a certain impulse to talk about it, there are things to discuss. I wouldn’t be craving a discussion, it would just be nice to have some time. One star.
  5.  Sucks the audience in: ★☆
    • Yes, even though it wasn’t fully deserved most of the time, it sucks us in because of Harry Potter, and to see how many connections it would have with that, which isn’t really that much,  given the time period. One star.

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SPECIALTY QUESTIONS

 

These are special questions written by you before seeing the movie, based on expectations, questions, stereotypes, you name it. If it’s a Tom Cruise movie, have Cruise-isms, if it’s a horror film, ask how scary it is, if it’s a sequel, ask if it fits in with the universe or if it was even needed to begin with, you catch the drift.

POTTER-VERSE?
★★★★★☆☆☆☆

SPECIALTY QUESTION #1

 

This is the category that mattered most in my opinion. This is a movie taking place in the wizarding world, so I needed to know if it fit in with that universe. I think the real, honest answer here, is both yes and no. The magic curses were there, the referenced beasts were there, they even say Dumbledore once. However, a lot of it felt fresh to a flaw.  For me, a big part of the what made Harry Potter what it was, was the ability to connect with so many of the characters, and it helps when the setting is in modern day. The characters in this movie are mostly forgettable, save for Newt and maybe some of the beasts. It’s not enough. In fact, it’s the same issue I had with the first Hobbit movie. Five stars.

MAGICALLY MAGIC?
★★★★★☆☆☆☆☆

SPECIALTY QUESTION #2

 

Again, I have to drop the score down to five stars, because even though the magic was there, and the spells were there, the focus was so extremely low, and more geared towards the characters and creatures, it felt uneven. This universe was about magic. Not only the magic coming from the wands but the magic the audience feels when watching those movies. I didn’t feel that here, and I felt they could have focused more on the magic part of things. Five stars, again.

UNITED STATES?
★★★★★★★★★★

SPECIALTY QUESTION #3

 

Even though I wasn’t a big fan of the time period, I can definitely say I was looking forward to seeing Harry Potter in the US, and how that would work. It aggravated me about being in 1926, but it actually was very interesting to see New York, just as I thought it would be. So for this one, I’ll give it the full 10 stars.

EPIC?
★★★★★★★★★★

SPECIALTY QUESTION #4

 

At first, I was only going to give this category five stars, because it never once felt as epic as Harry Potter. If I did that though, it would be using comparison to decide the fate of another film. If this was the only movie in existance for the series, it would certainly feel epic, because it has all the elements in order to feel that way. They just do it differently than you might expect. So for this category, I’ll also give this 10 stars.

HALFWAY DECENT
★★★★★★★★★★

SPECIALTY QUESTION #5

 

The final specialty question has to deal with the question on if this is halfway decent or not. Let’s put it this way, the movie was nominated for an Oscar, what do you think? Of course, it’s halfway decent.

RATING: 79/100

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