Fantastic Beasts: Should we avoid them? - NO

George Bell asks in the much lamented Harry Potter prequel series deserves its bad reputation.

George Bell
16th December 2019
Image: IMDB

[Warning: Spoliers For Both Fantastic Beasts Movies Included]

Practically a part of everyone’s childhood, especially in the UK, the Harry Potter franchise is close to many people’s hearts, so when it was announced a new franchise set in the wizarding world was coming and starring Eddie Redmayne, many were naturally excited.

But now in 2019 after the release of both Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (2016) and the more controversial Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald (2018) the verdict seems to be that both are a disappointment and aren’t particularly good with very little interest in the third installment in 2021. I personally don’t believe that all the criticism is warranted and here’s why.

Dared To Try Something New

With a screenplay written by J.K Rowling, the Fantastic Beasts movies could very easily just be more of the same as the original Harry Potter franchise, I mean why not? The total for all 8 movies earned more than 7.7 billion dollars making it the second-highest-grossing franchise of all time so WB could have safely got some more money by basically doing the same with new characters in Hogwarts. Yet they didn’t. Set in the 1920s with various countries and new characters the tone of these movies is a fresh experience for the world of Harry Potter which I for one loved as it meant I wouldn’t make as many comparisons with the main franchise and enjoy it for what it was. Also, it doing something new further built on the mythos of harry potter with more spells and awesome creatures.

The Fantastic Beasts Themselves

'Niffler' Newt's cleptomaniac pet beast. Image:IMDB.

The Harry Potter series definitely gave us some iconic creatures from Dobby the (free) house-elf to Buckbeak the Hippogriff. The Fantastic Beasts franchise has taken this and cranked it to eleven with numerous new and exciting creatures in both films. Each new beast is so unique and bizarre it just reinforces how magical the world is. Similar to Harry Potter, they use a healthy mixture of practical and physical effects for the creatures in order to make them spectacular and fun to watch while somewhat realistic. I can’t wait for the third installment just to see what new beasts are to come

Magical Performances

The films protagonist Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne). Image:IMDB.

Certainly one of the franchise's best aspects is the brilliant cast it has at its disposal. Unlike the earlier Harry Potter movies that had the inexperience of child actors highlighted when working with legends like the late Alan Rickman, the Fantastic Beast’s cast has several well-known faces of the acting industry. From the likes of Eddie Redmayne, Ezra Miller, Colin Farrell, and Johnny Depp, just to name a few, Fantastic Beasts has a great cast and gives performances to match which helps take away from, at times, poor writing.

A Villain Worthy of the Series

Controversial in his casting and having to follow Colin Farrell's great performance as Graves, Johnny Depp has a lot of challenges with the role of Grindelwald. However, thanks to an empathetic goal of rights for wizards, compelling writing, especially in the climax of the second movie and his speech, and the sheer charisma of Depp make for an interesting villain I can’t wait to see more in the third film. The relationship between Grindelwald and Dumbledore also adds a further level of complexity to the character and while clearly wrong the things he does, you can’t help but fall under his spell.

While still a few years away from the next installment in the franchise, that doesn’t mean we can’t start getting excited about it. Go back and watch one and two and maybe it will change your opinion as to why Fantastic Beasts isn’t completely terrible.

Calm, intelligent and charismatic Gellert Grindelwald (Johnny Depp) brought the dangers of fascism to the Wizarding World. Image:IMDB.
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AUTHOR: George Bell
One half film addict, one part computer nerd. All parts Croc lover

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