Fantastic Beasts: Action, Comedy, or Tragedy?
January 10, 2017
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Whether or not it was a worthwhile picture, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them was destined to be a box office success. Unarguably has been, earning $473.7 million globally from fans of the Harry Potter franchise who want to see more of the magical world. But Fantastic Beasts, while enjoyable, is not Harry Potter.
With the featured wizards fully grown, the film could not be a coming of age story like Harry Potter. Instead, the movie cannot decide whether it will be a grim picture that wrestles with tough topics such as abuse, or an action drama with comedic overtones, so it becomes a mishmash of both.
What should be the film’s A story-the shy Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne), and his unlikely team of heroes attempt to recapture the magical creatures which have escaped from his case-is rushed in favor of the B story: the Second Salemers, a non-magical group convinced of the existence of witches and intent on their destruction. Meanwhile, the audience is aware the existence of an obscurus, a magical child who has attempted to suppress their magic.
With too many ends to resolve (the franchise will feature four other chapters), the movie chooses to settle the issue of the Second Salemers too abruptly for its build-up by having Credence (Ezra Miller), one of children under its care, kill founder Mary Lou Barebone (Samantha Morton) in what could almost be labeled an accident. Similarly, Newt’s creatures are rounded up well before finale, which introduces the conflict that will likely be the subject of the upcoming installments.
The movie’s strengths however, are in the development of its four central characters- Newt, Tina (Katherine Waterson) , Queenie (Alison Sudol), and Jacob (Dan Folger)-and their attachments to one another, something that Harry Potter is often praised for as well. The romance between Queenie and Jacob is campy, but it manages to successfully toe the line between being entertaining and being cringeworthy. The movie also leaves just enough open ended to justify a sequel.
Overall, though dragged through too many plotlines for it to handle, Fantastic Beasts does not lack the characters or the action it needs to tell a good story, and will likely draw viewers back in for its second installment.