March 20, 2017

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (2016)

Eddie Redmayne

Spin-offs are tricky. I don't automatically assume they are going to be terrible, like I do sequels, but they are often a disappointing addition to beloved series. Like reading Ender's Shadow or watching Lion King 1/2 starring Timon and Pumba. (Just kidding)

With Harry Potter the cultural touchstone it is, JK Rowling had a lot of guts to go and attempt a screenplay set in the magical world she had created, but without any of the familiar characters. Then again, she is JK Rowling and pretty much everything she writes is amazing. (If you don't follow her on Twitter, you should.)

I came into this movie solidly skeptical it could live up to anything Harry Potter related. And if you compare it to Harry, it doesn't. It does, however, firmly hold its own in a genre of fantasy and magic and escapism. It provides tons of inventive creatures, exciting action, and a non-magical character so likable you almost forget that Eddie Redmayne is supposed to be the star. It is also set in the US, where Rowling create a fun contrast of magic in the US vs. magic in the UK where viewers have the added fun of using all that stored Harry Potter knowledge that, let's be honest, serves little purpose in everyday life.

I don't think this movie will go down in history as anything special, or even as something Rowling will be known for, but if you're looking for a fun, easy watch, it delivers.

Final word: Better than expected.

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