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Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them Review by Himanshu Talwar

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I just finished watching Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them and honestly, it’s good. But nothing more than good. Keep in mind that I’m someone who has watched the Harry Potter series and respects it for what it is, but am in no way shape or form a fanatic for this particular world of wizardry.

That being said Fantastic Beasts managed to capture my attention for the entirety of its runtime and even, dare I say, entertain me enough to where I left the theatre feeling satisfied.

The movie is studded with beautiful beasts foreign in shape and size alongside its brilliantly intricate sets filled with ornate and complex scenery ready to stupefy the audience again and again.

But where Fantastic Beasts fails to awe, it presents a major flaw in the production of the film.

Fantastic Beast’s plot is made up of the same three act structure that every movie produced in Hollywood is bound by. In this same uninspired formula is exactly my qualms with Fantastic Beasts become real.

The movie is filled with lighthearted quips designed specifically to make you laugh, heartwarmingly sad moments concocted for you to remember that dog you had in elementary school, and cheeky one-liners like: “My philosophy is worrying makes you suffer twice.”

I say this to highlight that Fantastic Beasts reeks of the miasma that dwells within boardroom meetings.

Everything is so basic. Everything is so common denominator. It’s the same issue I had with Star Wars: The Force Awakens. This movie was carefully crafted to bring back the hungry fans and even hungrier mainstream because that’s where the money is.

Fantastic Beasts is filled with wondrous monstrosities that inspire feelings of grandeur and adventure and mystery and excitement. But all of this falls flat because of Fantastic Beast’s uninteresting delivery.

The film ultimately dooms itself to the status of “nothing more than good” because of its reliance on safe bets.

In a world where Game of Thrones receives so much praise, it’s odd to me that Fantastic Beasts doesn’t use the opportunity to reward its viewer’s intellect. Instead it sticks to the same cookie-cutter baseline that movies without great writers, directors or huge budgets are able to achieve.

Which brings me to my next qualm. Now before I dive into this, I want to mention that it didn’t affect my judgement of the quality of the film but rather spoke a bit about the current state of Hollywood. Racial diversity is oddly inserted into Fantastic Beasts.

The president of MACUSA is a coloured woman, as well as a fair few other elites in the magic world. But the lackeys, the normal folk, the common man are all white. It’s odd. In a place as big as New York City (where the film takes place), how is it possible that not a single normal coloured person was part of any wizardly – or non – shenanigans.

It felt as though some executive workhorse behind Fantastic Beasts decided that having a coloured woman in a position of power was enough to satisfy the needs of equal representation. And it must be said that this is the absolute first time that I’ve actually even noticed lack of diversity in films. Maybe with the increase in discussion, my eyes have been opened to a dimension of relationship with on-screen personas that I hadn’t considered before.

Don’t get me wrong. Fantastic Beasts isn’t a bad movie. Its aim is seemingly the same as Guardians of the Galaxy, The Avengers, Transformers, etc. But, it fails to match or exceed the thrill of excitement that came with the freshness of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone.

 

This piece was written by Himanshu Talwar. Find Him on Twitter @SenorBrownCat.

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