1. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
Release Year: 2016
Director: David Yates
Starring: Eddie Redmayne as Newt Scamander, Katherine Waterston as Tina Goldstein, Dan Fogler as Jacob Kowalski, Alison Sudol as Queenie Goldstein, and Colin Farrell as Percival Graves
The first installment in the Fantastic Beasts movie series had a lot to live up to. Coming out about five years after the final Harry Potter adaptation was released, fans of the franchise were cautiously hopeful about the next series. Fortunately, the movie turned out solid, seeing generally positive reviews from both critics and Harry Potter fans.
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them introduces us to Newt Scamander, a wizard and magizoologist who travels from Britain to New York City with a bunch of magical creatures in his suitcase. It’s easy to root for Newt as he’s kindhearted, quirky, and a bit of an outsider. I’m also a big fan of Redmayne, who does a great job bringing the character to life. Throughout the movie, Newt meets other characters, like fan-favorite Jacob Kowalski, as he tries to track down his creatures and learns about a dark wizard named Gellert Grindelwald.
The performances in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them are particularly strong, and the movie is fun because of the introduction of the magical creatures and the world-building it does to the Harry Potter story we know and love. That said, some of the pacing is a little off and sometimes it feels like the movie introduces too many characters and plot points, making it a bit over-stuffed. Though the movie is pretty well-liked, it’s not without flaws.
At the time of this writing, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them has a 74% score on Rotten Tomatoes, which I think is fair. It’s certainly solid and has its moments, but it’s not as great as the original Harry Potter movies.