Five years after the main Harry Potter storyline concluded with the finale of The Deathly Hallows, Warner Bros. brought J.K. Rowling’s Wizarding World back to the big screen in the form of a spinoff/prequel titled Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. Taking its name from the Hogwarts textbook, the film followed the exploits of magizoologist Newt Scamader, who travels to 1920s New York and tries to track down a collection of magical creatures that escaped from his briefcase. Along the way, he befriends Muggle Kowalski and sisters Tina and Queenie Goldstein, who aid Newt in his quest.
Shortly before its release, Fantastic Beasts was revealed to be the first in a five-part series that will primarily depict the rise of the dark wizard Grindelwald (played by Johnny Depp), and the first sequel is set for a November 2018 premiere. While the film was a sizable box office hit, the overall reaction to its quality was decidedly mixed (a departure from the well-received Potter installments). As such, there’s plenty of material for the good folks at Honest Trailers to sort through, and now ScreenJunkies has unveiled their Fantastic Beasts episode for all to see. You can watch it above.
One of the easiest targets for this parody/critique is just how thin the overall concept is. Even the most die-hard Potter fans have to admit that the source material can’t really serve as the basis for a feature film (yet alone five), so to some, Fantastic Beasts came across as a desperate attempt by WB to continue one of their most lucrative franchises and satisfy the cravings for more material millions of moviegoers have. Unfortunately, the narrative they crafted this time around is largely uninteresting, and the characters can be seen as dull. One of the better zingers in the video is Tina’s “Starring” card as “Boremione,” an obvious reference to Harry Potter heroine Hermione Granger. ScreenJunkies is also quick to remind everyone what happens when Depp plays a “pale weirdo.”
The main New York setting of Fantastic Beasts is also criticized, as it struggles to capture the sense of awe and wonder that Hogwarts managed over the course of eight movies. Granted, this is to be expected, since few things can realistically compete with an enchanted school where students learn to control their magical powers, but the Honest Trailer hardly serves as a tourism montage for the Big Apple. “Selling points” like an uptight repressed society prejudiced against no-majs (complete with a “murder jacuzzi”) don’t exactly make this version of America sound appealing.
Of course, Fantastic Beasts wasn’t all bad. The biggest positive the Honest Trailer points out is the charming and lovable Kowalski, who won audiences over with his wide-eyed astonishment at all the incredible things happening around him. Unfortunately, actor Dan Fogler has not been officially confirmed to return for the followup yet, but hopefully he joins the sequel’s cast so he can be a franchise bright spot again. Though Fantastic Beasts didn’t get off to the best start, there’s still potential for it to deliver compelling and exciting entertainment as the series continues, and ideally director David Yates will make the next films better than ever.
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is now available on Blu-ray.