By right, everyone should be wary of sequels and universe extensions. Yet when a movie gets good reviews when it comes out, from spectators and press, It’s a rather good green light. Such was my approach to Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. And this general enthusiasm was well founded.
While being a big production, this “prequel” by Rowling really stands out from the Blockbuster style, where even the Harry Potter movies were much more conventional. And this demarcation is above all graphic. David Yates gives us a little good-natured tale (even if it has its shadow areas) that will be the paragon of the Hobbit for what it is compared to the trilogy of the Lord of the Ring. Besides a very successful set of New York of the beginning of the century, worked out and mixed with the sorcerer sauce, it is above all the creatures that will be remembered. At a time when it abounds with other alien and computer generated quirks, one is often tired to see pretty much always the same things. Here, without being anatomically very different, those beasts remains beautiful and full of life, with a peculiar personality in each. They bring a real color touch to the film, both literally and figuratively.
I was mentionning a New York finished with the “wizard sauce” (I guess it’s quite a French expression): here too we can congratulate the team in charge of design because they managed to give a credible American aspect to it while keeping this wizard universe they had created for England in the previous Harry Potter. Thus, the atmosphere is familiar without being a pale copy.
A good part of the atmosphere of the Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is due to the actors, who contributes to it, and to the graphics; and especially thanks to Eddie Redmayne and Katherine Waterston with their innocent look. They deliver a remarkable performance that is highlighted by the second roles played by Dan Fogler and Alison Sudol. And that’s where I switch to talk about the script: very balanced in my opinion. It’s a very cute tale, with magic, an obscure force, rhythm, cuteness, and humor. One of the people who came along to the screening found that there was a lack of stakes. In this, I find the perfect example of the Hollywood formatting that one undergoes: all history don’t requires stakes. A story is about going from a point A to a point B by following a character, and seeing how he evolves over this period of time. The stakes are then only a tool in the spectrum of possible motivations, and here the absence of a great villain – for example – is in no way an obstacle.
In conclusion, if you missed the wizard universe of Harry Potter, go! Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is a very good tale for this end of the year, very well staged, very well written and directed. For once the studios bring you a new creation without scaming you, so there is no need for hesitation!
More info on IMDb,