FANTASTIC BEASTS Review — J.K. Rowling Goes All Marvel on Us

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Fantastic Beasts Review by Lisa Johnson Mandell

Fantastic Beasts ReviewHarry Potter fans are going to curse me for my bah-humbug attitude about this film, but frankly, I was bored. The story was predictable, the palette was mostly a dull gray, Eddie Redmayne as Fantastic Beast expert Newt Scamander mostly mumbled, and an excessive amount of screen time was dedicated to getting those errant creatures in and out of that damn suitcase.

But my biggest objection to the film is what I like to call the sellout scene: an epic battle in New York City, where buildings come crashing down, windows break, and collateral damage abounds. Like we’ve never seen that before in, like every Marvel movie ever made and then some. Since this is a J.K. Rowling film, it doesn’t end there of course, but still–I think one of the bestselling authors of all time should be above that, don’t you?

This is the first film in the genre that is not based on a book, and the first time J.K. Rowling took a crack at the screenplay. But the good old Harry Potter look and feel comes from director David Yates, who was also responsible for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Parts 1 & 2, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, and Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. He knows his way around the wizarding world by now.

In what is predicted to be a franchise foundation (plans for four sequels are already in the works) the plot is simple. In the 1920’s, Newt brings a suitcase full of fantastic beasts to New York, in search of more. He accidentally runs afoul of the magical counsel in the U.S., none of whom are portrayed as brilliant. And there’s a dubious sort played be Colin Farrell, who lurks about, well, lurking.

After all this, I must say that the film is not without its charm. The beasts themselves are wonderful, the score by James Newton Howard is one of the best of the year. And a couple of characters/actors really stood out in the chilly, ho-hum cast: I was delighted by Dan Fogler as “Nomage” aka “Muggle” Jacob Kowalski, and Alison Sudol, as a Marilyn-esque Queen, was consummately endearing.

Suffice it to say I didn’t hate the film, I just hoped for more. Perhaps I’ll get it in the next installment.

Rated PG-13

2 Hours 12 Minutes

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FANTASTIC BEASTS Review — J.K. Rowling Goes All Marvel on Us


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Lisa Johnson Mandell

Lisa Johnson Mandell

Lisa Johnson Mandell is an award winning journalist, author and film/TV critic. She can be heard regularly on Cumulus radio stations throughout the US, and on BBC Radio.

1 Comment

  1. Jan Allred on November 26, 2016 at 9:47 am

    I think JK Rowling is trying to get too much additional mileage out of Harry Potter. Most of us loved the original books and films. Haven’t yet seen Fantastic Beasts, but didn’t like her recent Harry Potter and the Cursed Child book. It was written as a play that lacked a lot of detail and struck me as a somewhat lazy way to write a book. (Obviously some plays make wonderful books. Not this one though.)

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