I feel all my life I’ve been told to watch Harry Potter, and dive into the wider wizarding world he inhabits, and for most of my life I’ve resisted. Over the years I’ve dipped in and out the saga, watching the odd entry here and there, but it never truly stuck with me. Much like the MCU, to start following a series from a later entry can feel like, not only substantial effort, but homework. So going into the latest Fantastic Beasts film – I was curious. Could I see the third entry in a trilogy, the latest instalment in a franchise spanning decades, and enjoy myself. It’s a question that is getting more and more relevant with each passing franchise and new cinematic universe. The answer to this film, is yes.
David Yates has managed to craft a thoroughly enjoyable film, that manages to balance its ensemble cast effectively and provide some genuinely fun set pieces that are made for the big screen. The film keeps a swift pace, throwing us into stories and characters, yet also providing enough depth and history to each narrative thread. It’s a film that has a story to tell and is not interested in straying far from that. However, is that story worthy of a feature length adventure? Again, kind of. The film’s plot is contrived, the character’s objectives are muddled, and their plans are confusing. Most of the set pieces don’t really lend themselves to the plot, and you can’t even count the number of McGuffins on one hand. However, it’s impossible to not get swept up in the nonsense of it all. There’s something charming about a film that sets up its rules, sticks to them and commits to them – even if it’s silly, downright ridiculous and nonsensical – it is magic and wizards after all.
Amongst the silliness of it all, are some captivating performances, and this is what helps keep the film so darn entertaining. Jude Law and Eddie Redmayne are fantastic, superb. Law brings such a fantastic sense of weight and dramatic integrity, that it’s impossible to not just be completely submerged in the film every time he’s on screen. Redmayne and the rest of the ensemble are equally fantastic, with only a few performances falling flat – which is impressive considering the sheer size of the cast. Having not seen Johnny Depp’s performance of Grindelwald in the previous film, I have nothing to compare Mads Mikkelsen interpretation to, yet he was another standout. I only wish he had more to do, despite being such an integral part to the story. His relationship to Law’s Dumbledore was refreshing, beautifully handled and a joy to behold. Everytime, they shared the screen together was magic (pardon the pun).
I was joined by fellow Student Pages writer, Chloe Bayliss. Chloe is a Harry Potter fan, and she shares her thoughts below.
The movie made frequent references to the original Harry Potter movies which I loved. With the original music lifting us into the wizarding world we are already familiar with, there are moments which makes the true Potterhead heart swell with joy. What I found particularly interesting was the look into the earlier lives of some of our beloved Hogwarts professors Dumbledore and McGonagall. Jude Law presents an honest, mysterious, and charismatic Albus Dumbledore, humanising a man who is so often viewed as more of a figure or legend and awe than what he truly is, a man with heart and flaws.
Each new movie brings us further into the politics and culture of the wizarding world – when that opening soundtrack began to play it was like I had come home to Hogwarts and the magical world that surrounds it.
The film is by no means a masterpiece, or a defining work in its genre, but it’s a thoroughly enjoyable big screen experience. Yes, it’s silly, bordering on the ridiculous, but isn’t that what you wants with magic, wizards, and fantastical beasts? If you can buy into its world, you will find plenty to keep you entertained and invested. An enjoyable popcorn flick, that is definitely worth the price of admission.
Reviewed by James Reilly & Chloe Bayliss