Movie Review: Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (2016)

by StevenHelmer

A review of the 2016 film starring Eddie Redmayne and Katherine Waterston.

Synopsis: A British wizard, Newt Scamander, arrives in New York City while en route to Arizona to return a thunderbird to its natural habitat. When magical suitcase he uses to transport a variety of magical beasts accidentally falls into the hands of a non-magical cannery factory worker, some of the creatures are released into the city and he, with the help of a demoted investigator, must track them down.
At the same time, the City of New York is being terrorized by a dark magical creature. Is it one of Newt's beasts? Or, is there some other creature on the loose?


I was never able to get into the Harry Potter books. However, I have seen all but the last movie of that series and thought they were pretty decent. Despite that, I was admittedly a little hesitant to watch this movie and only wound up putting it on my Netflix list because my daughter (who has read the books numerous times) wanted to see it.

We finally got around to watching it Friday night as our family movie. Overall, after seeing it, I do have to say it was better than I was expecting it to be.

I think the thing that really impressed me about this film was the mystery surrounding the dark creature that was quietly terrorizing New York City in 1926. At first, it wasn't clear what the creature was and why it was attacking people. Then, as more details were discovered, it became about who was controlling the creature. And, while the latter really wasn't that much of a surprise, the film does do a decent-enough job with misdirection to make it a bit less obvious.

The main hero of the movie, Newt (Redmayne), reminded me a bit too much of the Doctor from Doctor Who (my wife and I both thought he even looked a lot like Matt Smith). But, despite that, I did think he was very likable, both because he was humorous and because he wasn't afraid to face danger if it meant protecting one of the beasts he was caring for. I also thought the supporting cast, while a little underused, managed to add a little extra to the film when needed.

My only real complaint about this movie is, for a movie that is about fantastical beasts, we really didn't get to see nearly as many as I hoped would be the case. Most of the creatures were shown in captivity and the few that did escape from his suitcase were captured a bit too easily. I do think the film would have been quite a bit better had they been involved a lot more than they were.

In fact, I'm kind of wondering if maybe this would have been better as a TV series rather than a movie, with Newt traveling around the wizard world (and non-wizard world) capturing the creatures and giving us a little more information about them. I still think the movie was OK but, to be honest, the more I think about the overall impact his creatures made, the less I think of the film in general.

Final Opinion

It's an OK movie that did turn out to be fun to watch. But, I also think, given the title, this film fell a little short of its potential.

My Grade: C

Updated: 09/17/2018, StevenHelmer
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DerdriuMarriner on 02/17/2022

StevenHelmer, Thank you for product lines, pretty pictures and practical information.
There's a book version of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. It mixes images with information. Would you happen to have read it, and if so, what would your grade be on it?

What would you think of a filmed prequel or a film sequel?

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