Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them takes place in the 1920's, and Harry Potter, according to its wiki, takes place in the 80's. And Harry Potter took place in, well, Europe altogether. This is in America. We are alongside Newt Scamander played by Eddie Redmayne, coming to New York with a briefcase that can't stay unlocked, and he has to press something that says, "Muggle Safe" before letting it open to check. However, his possum pet who has a Mr-Krabs love for trasure and a Mary-Poppins pocket for it can't help himself, and with it going loose Newt risks revealing magic. Remember how Harry and Ron were seen by no less than 7 muggles in The Chamber of Secrets and how putting up a single Patronus charm in The Order of the Phoenix, regardless of intention, gave him an expulsion and nearly conviction? Yeah, the board of magic does not want anyone knowing this. Without eyewitness, they have nothing to worry about. One wizard family who seems to run a soup kitchen at a church and live like hostages with themselves wants the press to print a story about the magic, especially when some strange force seems to be sprinting and smashing its way through the city and making their victims' bodies rot like eggs. Could Newt have something to do with it? And where are all these beasts coming from?
Now, this movie has one of the best beginnings to a movie in quite a while. It's madness and sets up some hilarious reactions from a muggle, Jacob Kowalski give the terrific effects and twistedly unfamiliar situation a setting that prevents you from turning your eyes away. There's also a character with a superpower that you've heard of in pretty much every fantasy before, but with this one, it's cute, it's clever (the character uses it when we least expect it as our hearts are pumping) and is put into the hands of the right character.
Not only that, but I love the actual premise of the movie altogether; magic in New York City. This wasn't the vibe I got from Harry Potter as I watched the movies, but yeah, the characters spend a lot of their time at school. This movie really builds the battlefield higher and allows us to have a post-college little view. And in the magic realm, there are creepy-crawlies and Buckbeak-amazing-and-adorable creatures like you wouldn't believe and in the city realm, it feels like a city from the roarin' twenties, strangely clean but not always sparkling. The movie also has a delicious new story about limited magic and has some supreme fight choreography, quick stun spells and sheilds with their "fwoop" sound returning. There's a scene with Kowalski running for his life from a creature with a tiny mouth but big stomach. Proves the filmmakers still have a sense of humour even after the craziness that was The Deathly Hallows Part 2. Oh, speaking of humour, someone says "lady things", and at first I didn't get the joke. Then I did ten seconds later, and I giggled out loud,Plus, to top it all off with a cherry, a delightful reference to Dumbledore.
Now, not a lot of movies do this, but this one prevented some very important characters from meeting. I tend to not like this in movies or books because it prevents some potentially interesting conversations and teamwork and a feel this is altogether one movie. And not a lot of movies do this either, but I felt Redmayne was mumbling too much throughout this film, making him obviously hard to understand and makes it seem like the only reason he's intriguing is because of his sense of dress. Kowalski is the most interesting character, probably because he's the most relatable, rejected from a loan by the bank crushingly and all new to magic in awe, as we would be. Plus, there were a few incredibly trite moments, such as when someone is standing on a pod and it's not too big a deal, and a character we are annoyed with doesn't recieve the deserved commeupance. Mix those with the good and it was an okay movie...
My original score was going to be something between a B and an A-, but then one thing changed all that. The ending.
I think this has got to be the most disappointing - no, imbecillic - ending to a movie since The Forest. That movie and this movie were both pretty good up until the ending sabotage. And for that reason I can't blame director David Yates - sadly I have to blame writer J.K. Rowling. And this is not an ending like Star Wars: The Force Awakens or a cliffhanger from a very good series author like Victoria Aveyard. Those ones keep you poised for more and that's why people tend to hate the endings. I hate this ending because it's stupid, wimpy, actually doesn't make sense (that wouldn't have reached all of them for the same reason it didn't reach them, and what about that murder? Is it just forgotten?) and takes back a very important statement.
In the end, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them may be the start of a new series, but the ending made it feel like a cash-grab standalone, and if they do end up making a sequel, let's hope they undo the flaws of the ending intentionally, letting us know they knew it was rubbish and that was the point. Somehow, I don't think they'll do that, though. You're probably going to see this movie eventually anyway regardless of my negative grade if you're a Harry Potter fan, which is about half of the whole population. I hope for them, my reaction was antique.