Editor’s Note: The following is a group review of the film Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. This contains potential spoilers.
What did you think of
Cesareo: I’m gonna be honest, at first I didn’t understand what was going on. It took a while for the movie to get going.
Andrew: The intro with the newspaper headlines has been done to death.
Cesareo: I also didn’t understand what was going on at that point. Was I supposed to care about those people in the headlines?
Andrew: Well that’s the thing – they bring up these people and then don’t mention them again until the very end.
Anyway, going in, I knew nothing. I watched the first trailer, that’s it. I thought it was going to be about Newt Scamander running around New York being like, “Ooh I gotta write my book,” but it wasn’t that. There were two intertwined plots, which is not something I was expecting to see, but I think they pulled it off.
Cesareo: Yeah, it sort of started out as a fetch quest and then turned into something else when the Obscurus became part of the film.
Bailey: It definitely was a mix between light heartedness and the bigger picture. The plot took a while to fully develop itself, but in the end the duality of the plot made it flow well and kept the audience’s attention.
Do you think the plot’s dichotomy was handled well?
Andrew: I don’t know. There were two parts – the first is all, “Let’s have fun catching these monsters” and then there’s a horrific murder. They somewhat clash, but that may be something that Rowling was going for while writing the script.
Bailey: The one thing I’ll say is that I felt the transition between the “Oh, fun, we’re catching the Demiguise,” and the Erumpent trying to mate with Jacob to the full development of the Obscurial was a little rushed.
Cesareo: I don’t think they did an awful job with the transition because throughout the movie we have that creepy family which was involved with the New Salem Philanthropic Society. Throughout the first half of the movie, I had the question in the back of my mind, “What do these people mean in the bigger picture?”
What did you think about the length of the movie? Did you find the 2 hour and 13 minute runtime to be too long?
Bailey: I thought it was good, since even the longest Harry Potter movie is that length. I think if they had tried to speed it up they would have missed things and not set it up in a good way. But here, with the extensive CGI and character development, I think it was better for people who didn’t have any experience with the Harry Potter movies.
Andrew: Yeah, and it’s not an adaptation. There’s nothing for it to live up to, so the worst it could be was just a mediocre movie, but I felt like it wasn’t mediocre at all. My expectations weren’t really high because when spin-offs and things like this happen, I’m always reluctant and fear they are going to mess something up.
Do you feel Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them stands on its own, apart from the Harry Potter films?
Cesareo: I think it does. It doesn’t really rely too much on the fact that it is a Harry Potter film. I think the biggest reference was when Colin Farrell’s character is interrogating Newt and mentioned how Dumbledore was the only professor who was opposed to expelling him from Hogwarts.
Andrew: There were one or two name drops. They weren’t shoving Harry Potter in your face.
Bailey: Yeah, there were minor things – Easter eggs for those who read the books and watched the other movies, like how they mentioned the Lestrange family or the name drop of Dumbledore.
Cesareo: I would say even someone who hasn’t seen the original Harry Potter movies or knows nothing about Harry Potter could still have a very good time watching this film.
Did you think the CGI in the film was convincing?
Cesareo: I knew the creatures were CGI but I still felt for those little beasts, like the Niffler for example.
Bailey: Oh the Niffler! He was so cute! He was a lot sassier than I thought he was going to be.
Andrew: There were a few times when they got close up to the Niffler and it looked pretty cartoony and it didn’t really fit with the rest of it, but for the most part, they weren’t close up to the creatures and that worked the best.
Cesareo: It was a good movie. You can definitely enjoy it even if you’re not a Harry Potter fan. In fact, I think anyone could have a great time watching this movie. Rating: 8/10
Bailey: I was hesitant to see it only because I didn’t know how much of a hand J.K. Rowling had in the movie. But it did a really good job sticking to the world and not trying to create things that shouldn’t have been there. Rating: 8.5/10
Andrew: It definitely didn’t go in the direction I was expecting it to, but I’m glad I was wrong. Rating: 8/10