October 4, 2022

It’s charming and enough of a mess to be an entertaining watch.

The weirdness of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them comes from the odd structure of the story and the fact that the male (Eddie Redmayne) and female (Katherine Waterston) leads are so socially awkward. Not socially awkward in the normal movie way, where people just say they’re awkward and they don’t fit in but they read as normal to the audience, but actually awkward and introverted.

It’s charming and enough of a mess to be an entertaining watch.

The weirdness of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them comes from the odd structure of the story and the fact that the male (Eddie Redmayne) and female (Katherine Waterston) leads are so socially awkward. Not socially awkward in the normal movie way, where people just say they’re awkward and they don’t fit in but they read as normal to the audience, but actually awkward and introverted. They’re not on the extreme end of that spectrum, but that they’re on it at all is kinda crazy for a movie like this. You can feel their anxiety at having to talk to other people. It makes them hard to read, especially at first.

Part of that is also the plot and it’s own weirdness. For a kind of prequel movie in the Harry Potter-verse that’s the start of its own new series, it’s kinda odd that pretty much all of the plot is driven and informed by events that happened before this movie. We’re told and shown a lot, without getting to experience it ourselves. We get a lot of time spent of monster shenanigans, in addition to the more serious plot, other character stuff, and political tension bullshit; which all adds up to a pretty bloated movie.

The two major supporting characters (Dan Fogler and Alison Sudol) do the heavy lifting as outgoing affectionate characters, and I assume most people will be more drawn to them than the leads.

This is a movie full of actors, well known, but not movie star level. They all feel like people, with one notable exception: Johnny Depp feels like a goddam cartoon character when he shows up. As much as I had a fine time watching this movie, I’m not really sure I’m interested in seeing more if he’s gonna be heavily involved going forward.

I did have a pretty good time at this though. As far as big Hollywood spectacle goes this movie worked for me. The characters were endearing and the spectacle was big, and while familiar, didn’t feel stale. Not a particularly strong recommend, but I had a good time.