Review

So, I am not exactly adept at the ‘Harry Potter‘ universe. In fact, if I’m being honest, I probably know less about it overall than I do say–the MCU or the DCEU–and I’ve never even read a comic book that took place in either of those universes (And for that matter, I have barely read a comic book). I’ve seen the first four movies in the ‘Harry Potter‘ franchise, really liked three of them, hated the second one and thought ‘Goblet of Fire‘ in particular was a damn-near great film. I haven’t gone back to seek out the rest of the films yet, I’m sure I’ll get to them at some point, at least I always said that before, although now it seems like I’m gonna have to put a rush on that sooner than later, ’cause oh Christ, they’re actually expanding the universe. Well, I say “They”, but in this case, it’s actually, “She”, as ‘Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them‘, a prequel to those several years at Hogwarts, (Hell, we actually learn that in this universe, there’s more than one Wizarding School. Well, at least I learned that; I’m sure it was mentioned somewhere before) and that the Wizarding World is actually a world that exists below or possibly parallel to our world, and that it’s quite extensive. And that leads me to make a declaration that’s going to piss nearly all of you off, so here it goes:

As much as all Marvel and DC Universes are stupid and shouldn’t exist and just make both their brands worst, I think it’s actually, perfectly fine to expand on the Harry Potter universe!

Yeah, you read that right, soak in that anger Superhero-obsessed readers, MCU and DC are dumb for expanding and combining their worlds into one, but it’s good for ‘Harry Potter‘ to do it with ‘Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them‘. How I can possibly say that you ask, angrily wishing you had my picture on a dartboard right now, if for no other reason than to make sure you don’t accidentally punch your computer screen. Okay, here’s the thing: multiple superheroes makes no sense. It never did. Sure, say something like ‘X-Men‘ kinda pulls it off, metaphorically, sorta, (Not really). And yeah, I’m on record for loving ‘Watchmen‘, but ‘Watchmen‘ set up their own universe separate where it made sense. Marvel and DC however, they don’t. The whole point of superheroes, is that they’re superhuman, as in more than human, man and superman as some dead German philosopher once said. So, when there’s a bunch of them around, it becomes dumb. It becomes pointless, ’cause now, everyone’s super, so now, it’s just fantasy and everybody can do something, or eventually will be able to do something, special.

fantastic beasts and where to find them

Image via Warner Bros.

I mean, seriously think about it, would Batman even exist if there was a Superman already in the universe? I’d argue no, he wouldn’t. Cause there’d be Superman out there protecting everybody, there’d be no need for a vigilante. You want to claim Superman protects Metropolis though, not Gotham? That’s dumb too, he’s Superman, on several occasions Superman has to save the world, and sure he can’t get to everything, but still, bulls**t, he’d probably be able to save Gotham and everywhere else whenever the f**k he needed. Seriously, makes no damn sense, and that’s why Batman becomes a ridiculous violent nutjob in the universe, with a Superman, and now we have a Lex Luthor actually seeming logical in his argument.

Yeah, multiple superheros in the same world, just stupid. But, the ‘Harry Potter‘ films and ‘Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them‘ feature a world full of wizards, not superheroes. Also, it’s magic after all, and ‘Harry Potter‘ was actually, kind of a closed-in universe to begin with. It’s all secret and behind mysterious magical walls and doors and other openings that don’t seem to be there, unless you know to look for them. It’s always been parallel to the modern current world, hidden from the modern world. It’s the same trick that makes ‘True Blood‘ and Charlaine Harris’s Sookie Stackhouse novels work, only without the new synthetic blood that allowed the world to suddenly coexist. Wizards aren’t saving the world–well, not everyday– unless they have to, or are destined to, but they’re just like us and living within us. So yeah, it totally makes sense here to open up this world that, until now has mostly existed in a hard-to-reach school, and bring it out into the open, so to speak. Yeah, call me a hypocrite but it’s about the context and the world that was set up before allows for this to make sense with ‘Harry Potter’, and make absolute no god damn sense with either major superhero universe and I’m sure I’d have a big problem with it in several other minor ones too.

fantastic beasts and where to find them

Image via Warner Bros.

Anyway, that was predominate observation, but getting to the actual movie itself, it was fun and entertaining enough, and ended well, and I’m recommending it. Ultimately, like the ‘Harry Potter‘ stories, ‘Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them‘ is a simple tale just told in an extraordinary way, but delightful enough nonetheless. The main character is Newt Salamander (Eddie Redmayne) who’s one of those people obsessed with his work, which is as zoologist who documents and keeps magical creatures. Often in his briefcase, and occasionally, they may escape and cause havoc. It is 1920’s New York and you can’t have magical animals just destroying New York City, so this garners the attention of Tina (Katherine Waterston) who’s job is to track down anyone who inappropriately used their magic, and yeah, Newt, in his absent-minded way applies. He’s also shown a No-Maj, Jacob (Dan Fogler) that wizards exist, so he needs to have his mind wiped, but not before getting close to Tina’s nightclub flapper sister Queenie (Alison Sudol, who I’ve never heard of before and immediately love for pulling off a perfect Judy Holliday role) who’s somewhat wizardly in that she can reads minds. There’s a lot of other problems and characters, mostly regarding this secret Wizard organization led in New York by Mary Lou (Samantha Morton) with some good supporting if cliched supporting work from Colin Farrell and Ezra Miller among others, Ron Perlman has a good cameo as well, but when Newt opens his suitcase and he and Jacob takes the stairs down into it to take care of his collection of animals, I was enchanted.

Dan Fogler is really fun here as a canner who stumbles into this magic world, he’s a wonderful audience viewpoint character and I think makes the movie overall. If it wasn’t for him, ‘Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them’ could’ve just been a bunch of wonderful special effects, without much meaning, except for winks and nods at Potter fans. I’m told the book itself is produced in a way that makes it seem like it’s a standard textbook at Hogwarts, which,is just delightful. This is what I mean when I say this is a world worth expanding on and this is how to expand on it and turn it into a proper universe. This is probably my favorite Eddie Redmayne performance too, I like most people, didn’t understand all the acclaim he’s gotten over the years, although I do think he’s a great actor, but this is the right kind of role for him. I don’t know if I hope there’s a sequel to this, but I think ‘Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them‘ sets a good barometer for an expanded universe film. I wonder what new part of this enchanted world we get to visit next movie.

fantastic beasts and where to find them

Image via Warner Bros.

I’m David Baruffi, and as always, I get the last word.



About the Author

David Baruffi
David Baruffi

David Baruffi has been a successful unemployed screenwriter for, let’s be vague and call it “years”. He’s got a B.A. in Film Studies from UNLV, is a certified script supervisor and has done a little bit of everything in film, but mostly is a writer. Personally on his own blog “David Baruffi’s Entertainment Views and Reviews” which is at www.davidbaruffi.blogspot.com,and professionally has written several scripts and stories, for himself, and for others and as a ghostwriter. When he’s not doing that he watches his autistic brother most days and he looks like two old puppets.