By Sean Kranske, Contributing Writer
“Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” is the newest film set in J.K. Rowling’s ‘Wizarding World,’ but it tells a story separate from the Harry Potter series. It proves to be a fun and visually exciting ride for viewers of all ages, regardless of how much they know about Rowling’s previously-established world. However, the film tells a story that is less exciting than the spectacle it provides.
The movie is about Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne), searching for various magical creatures that he keeps in a bottomless suitcase. The film benefits greatly from Newt’s character, as well as Redmayne’s charmingly awkward performance. Newt remains a likable character throughout the entirety of the film.
The same can be said for the supporting cast as well. A woman named Tina (Katherine Waterson) and a ‘no-maj’ named Jacob (Dan Fogler) assist Newt on his task, which I won’t spoil here. Tina has an interesting character arc that makes her interesting, and Jacob effectively serves as the film’s comic-relief.
The designs of the beasts themselves are also great, and each has their own behaviors that make them seem as important as the human characters.
However, it is unfortunate that these great characters have been put into a less-than -great story. “Fantastic Beasts” has a whole sub-plot that feels more like a setup to a sequel rather than an interesting, self-contained story. This subplot eventually weaves its way into Newt’s story, often making the film feel more messy than it had to.
The film is heavily based around magic, which is often used for plot convenience rather than an interesting plot device. All too often characters find themselves in a predicament only for somebody to wave their wand and teleport somewhere else, or a beast just happens to appear that helps the heroes get out of trouble. This is not enough to ruin the film by any means, but it does stand out enough to be mildly annoying.
“Fantastic Beasts” may not be a perfect film, but it’s still a fun time at the theater. What it lacks in story it makes up for in visual spectacle and imagination. If you’re a Harry Potter fan, you’ve probably already seen it. If you know nothing about Harry Potter, there’s still a lot to enjoy about “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.”