“Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” expands the Harry Potter universe to the United States. Even better, it shows us what the wizarding world was like in the 1920’s. Unfortunately, this feels like a total money grab for J.K. Rowling. The creatures and special effects are visually interesting but as far as a story, this film does not have much to offer. It lacks the memorable characters, epic story, and heart of the Harry Potter series. Outside of the Potter label, I would find this to be a decent fantasy film but it doesn’t deliver the quality expected of the franchise. You would expect Eddie Redmayne to be the highlight of the film but his performance was surprisingly bland. I have noticed a downward trend in the quality of his acting since his Oscar-winning performance in “The Theory of Everything” and this seems to be yet another example. The best performance actually Katherine Waterston who is amazing in every role that she plays (particularly “Inherent Vice” and “Steve Jobs”). Notable actors Colin Farrell, Ezra Miller, Jon Voight, and Johnny Depp are also present but this film is more about the cool CGI creatures than it is about acting. The score by James Newton Howard is one of the film’s finest features and I would’ve liked to see it receive an Oscar nomination. This cheeky score blends playful 1920's ragtime with gorgeous musical themes. It was an important departure from the original series’ mystical theme by John Williams as it helps to establish the new mainly Muggle setting. “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” is an enjoyable film but gains its quality through special effects instead of memorable acting performances. J.K. Rowling was celebrated for bringing finality to the Harry Potter series instead of letting it drag on forever; unfortunately, this film (plus its FOUR anticipated sequels) seem to be more about the money than about contributing to the literary world.
[Pictured: The niffler steals our heart but the human characters do not]