The first Harry Potter prequel film is a little underwhelming and forgettable.
The film is essentially split into two. You have Newt Scamander’s hunt for his missing beasts and you have the Wizard worlds politicians trying to cope with an anti magic group known as New-Salemers. It’s only towards the end of the film when these two plot lines merge into one.
The problem with this is that Newt Scamander’s story is boring. Why? It’s very thin and sadly Newt Scamander himself is lacking in appeal. His whole inclusion into the larger scope of the story often feels forced and contrived. For example, the film at no point claims he’s all that good a wizard and yet he becomes the hero of the film and can somehow battle what are supposed to be very powerful wizards with ease.
Newt Scamander isn’t the only character related problem with the film. Pretty much ever other character with the exception of Dan Fogler’s No-Mag and Colin Farrell’s auror lack interest. Yes, some of them look cool and quirky but none of them have fully developed characters that I’m itching to see/know more of.
Another issue I have with the film is the CGI. There’s a lot of it. Most of it is good but there are some distractingly bad uses of it too. The CGI used to create the various beasts, for example, are mostly terrible.
There’s also a twist in the film. I obviously won’t spoil it, but it can be seen a mile off. Even the reveal of it lacks much in the way of drama. It also doesn’t make much sense either because it’s never fully explained. While it does adequately tease the upcoming sequels it falls a little flat here and feels forced in & inconsequential.
Fantastic Beasts is a heavily flawed film. It doesn’t have a great story nor does it have many good characters. What it does have going for it, is that it’s in the world of Harry Potter. Seeing the 1920’s New York merged with magic and mystery is great. It’s just a little disappointing that we only see enough of this stuff to establish a location. It never really gets fleshed out fully & that’s a complaint that applies to pretty much every aspect of the film.