The Fantastic Beasts films are flawed and mired in the same problems that befall prequels, especially prequels that come out years, or even decades after the originals, in that they showcase things that were never introduced in the first ones. There is so much magic being used in fun and inventive ways that never happened in the Harry Potter films, it’s so odd seeing things and going, “why didn’t they just do this before.” The same thing goes for all the crazy and awesome beasts, especially the ones with world-building powers, like picking world leaders and just introducing them in the third film.
Returning to the director’s chair for the 7th Wizarding World adventure is David Yates. His visual style within the world is unique and despite the lackluster reception for the previous two Fantastic Beasts films, they are visually stunning. Running against the controversial J.K. Rowling as well as franchise fatigue, the new trilogy has had a Sisyphean struggle since day one.
Despite its hurdles, there is a lot to like about this new installment. Eddie Redmayne is back and has settled comfortably in his role as the shifty and socially awkward Newt Scamander, the fun-loving muggle, Dan Fogler as Jacob Kawalski, and the age-defying Jude Law as Albus Dumbeldor. There is a throughline of characters and plotlines that are muddy and hard to follow at times, some characters have died and reappeared simply by saying, “He survived”, there are some characters who had huge arcs in the previous film and are nowhere to be seen here, the viewer definitely needs to be well aversed in this universe to follow along and understand the dynamics at play. One of the more startling changes is that Johnny Depp is no longer playing the main villian Grindewald, being replaced by Mads Mikkelsen after news of his relationship woes with Amber Heard surfaced. It is odd that they chose to kick Depp to the curb when Rowling and series regular Ezra Miller are equally if not more controverial.
Depsite those glaring setbacks, but the stories within these films and the fantastic characters will always have a special place in my heart. David Yates vision of this universe is spellbinding with beautiful use of color and magic. The titular fantastic beasts are numerous and used to great effect within the story. There is rumor of two more sequels, but I’m afraid they are unlikely to see the light of day, which is unfortunate because there is joy and fun to be found in this series, and it is unjustly dismissed.
3.5 out of 5