Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (d. David Yates USA/UK 2016)

Please read ‘On Reviews‘ for a guide to how I write film reviews. Any spoilers are appropriately marked and, though I personally prefer to know little about a film before seeing it, there is a synopsis at the bottom for any who wish to see one.


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In 1997 we saw the introduction of one of the most successful book series to come out in a long time with Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (a. J. K. Rowling Bloomsbury 1997). Very quickly this became a national phenomenon and a film series lasted between 2001 and 2011 based upon these books – sufficed to say it was very popular. With any successful film or book series it is hard to just finish it there. So despite the character arc for Harry Potter ending with Harry Potter and the Deadly Hollows (a. Rowling Bloomsbury 2007) (Parts 1 and 2 in film ending in 2011), it was always unlikely it would finish there. Now, the folklore for Harry Potter is expansive and is, in many ways, like Star Wars or The Lord of the Rings in this respect. A spin off was more than likely, it was certain. However, rather than a sequel or prequel to certain characters as would normally be expected, we are to look more closely at the folklore within Harry Potter. This would actually follow the textbook entitled Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (a. Rowling Bloomsbury 2001) first appearing as the book and then the film of the same name: Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (d. David Yates USA/UK 2016).

So the magical world before us has it’s trademark tricks and spells and therefore a good use of CGI. This is an especially big focus for the many creatures depicted which gave the film and book its title. Now CGI has come a long way and can offer some very good tricks but it certainly isn’t everything and it’s surprising how powerful films like Jurassic Park (d. Steven Spielberg USA 1993) still hold up today. Despite this, films such as Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them seem to have learnt very little. CGI is good but it’s very much limited to being CGI. With this being considered we can see a creative world. After considering this though; the films main strengths stop here.

The characters that hold the story up aren’t very interesting at all. They are ably performed by a good cast but there’s a significant lack of connection with them. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them marvels in its world and its creatures but there is very little to actually bring us in to this. The film also keeps what it does have to engage us back for far too long. In this way it’s actually hard to say how predictable the film is as it’s hard to engage with what they’re actually doing. Some events to keep some of the characters involved do feel contrived in a manner that holds the film back. SPOILERS: Why should Kowalski (Dan Fogler) stay with them? END OF SPOILERS. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them thinks you do care about the characters without doing much to help us to actually care.

All in all, oh dear. Perhaps there is a bare bones there that had some potential. As spin offs go there is an interesting premise at work here, just not a lot to suck us in. It’s like the original book was a picture book that got thrown into film too quickly. There is a lot to see but there’s a lot of waiting for it. The central cast just don’t have characters that matter. We’re also looking at four more films involved in this spin off series to come but they’re not off to a good start.


Newt (Eddie Redmayne) comes to New York and almost immediately finds himself in trouble to some of the creatures he has with him. This very quickly attracts some unlikely friends, who help him to gather his creatures back. All the while some magic officials are on his tail.

Further Reading

Official Site

Interview with Cast

Interview with David Yates

Interview with J. K. Rowling

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (d. David Yates USA/UK 2016)

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