Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them movie posterFantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (2016), PG-13
Directed by David Yates
Starring: Eddie Redmayne, Katherine Waterston, Dan Fogler, Alison Sudol, Ezra Miller, Samantha Morton, Jon Voight, Carmen Ejogo,  Ron Perlman, Colin Farrell.
Rating: three and a half stars
Reviewed By Xavier Emaka

J. K. Rowling has finally joined the movie industry. She actually did the screenwriting for this one. The movie came out late last year and is a prequel to the Harry Potter books. In fact, Rowling published the book long before she completed the franchise. It was meant to be an addition similar to the Similarion by J. R. R. Tolkien with the Lord of the Rings series.

The world is developing and magical creatures are finding their habitats being destroyed. Newt Schmander is a warden keeper extraordinaire. He collects magical creatures and releases them to locations where they are free from the influence of man and man’s progress.

Newt is trying to raise awareness for his cause and is in fact writing a paper, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. The paper might hopefully help his plight. Newt has gone to America to document some occurrences when he is arrested by Porpentina Goldstein (Tina), a former auror struggling to regain her reputation within the magical congress.

Unfortunately, the bag Newt was carrying was confused with the one carried by the no-maj/muggle Jacob Kowalski. Jacob, a struggling factory worker, unwittingly opens the briefcase and some of the magical animals escape.

Newt and Tina track Jacob and have to bring him back to Tina’s place for observation as one of the creatures bit him. Newt and Jacob head inside Newt’s expanded briefcase, which is the size of a national park. Inside Jacob sees an obscuris, a creature that develops from the suppression of magical ability in children. An obscuris normally kills its host by the time the host is 8 or 9 years old due to its malevolence. One such creature attacks a political candidate and son of one of the biggest newspapers in the country.

Newt and Tina are arrested and blamed for the crime. They are sentenced to death, but escape and are then in a chase to find out who the obscuris is.

This is the work of J. K. Rowling, so you can expect the kind of world building only she can do. The beasts are undoubtedly fantastic. Unfortunately, the plot is weak, starting with the fact the Newt Schmander should be nowhere near such creatures. He claims they are harmless, but he has an obscuris, a creature that bit Jacob and could poison him as well as countless others. A creature that could decimate a city, given enough time.

The acting is good, but the characters are not consistent. Newt is too clumsy to be admired. Tina wants the intelligence to be an auror, but constantly proves her incompetence. The villains seem too simple.

My verdict is that children will undoubtedly be enchanted. Grownups, however, might struggle.

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