Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them found it difficult to follow in the footsteps of Harry Potter. It’s even more difficult when you are trying to write a prequel steering clear of stepping on a mega hit like that. For whatever reason, this is the task J.K. Rowling took upon herself. Well, we all know the reason wasn’t money.
Being a writer myself I can understand. No matter how much fun and interesting times you can have while not writing, you simply cannot escape the pull of the keyboard or drag of the pen. Stories, they fill your mind and the only way to fend off the impending insanity is to write them down.
Subconsciously we are all going to compare this movie to the Harry Potter movies. Logically we know that movies, plural, means we are far more invested in the characters than a shiny new story of a similar genre.
Concept wasn’t well executed
I’m certain ardent fans found Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them far more enjoyable than I did. That is not to say it wasn’t enjoyable as a distraction nor is it to say I would not watch it again. The “bridging the pond” aspect of it had an appeal in concept, but the concept wasn’t well executed. Maybe it is because all of the characters are adults? Maybe it is because this movie appeared more formula than film but the formula was different? Something just didn’t work with the story line.
Visually the movie is quite appealing. Not as appealing as all of the visual oddities of Hogwarts, but visually appealing none-the-less.
Prequels generally suck
Maybe this movie was doomed in my mind before I watched it. I’m old enough to know that prequels suck. Doesn’t matter if they are for Star Wars or anything else. Releasing the back matter the publisher or writer chose to ax/ignore initially as a stand alone project after the fact just doesn’t work.
I would have found it more intriguing if the story picked up where the series ended. Most of the kids married with kids of their own, showing how their lives inverted. It would have been interesting to see Harry and that kid who was amazed he could not only dance but that a girl would actually want to dance with him having the same middling office job. Seeing Harry struggle with “having peaked in High School” (so to speak) and that kid enthusiastic that each day allowed him to go home to his wife and passel of ankle biters.
The secret to happiness is low expectations
I have always been told the secret to happiness was low expectations. Others have said happiness is nothing more than having something to look forward to. Either way, it would have been an interesting movie to see that play out as well as educational for children. You had dreams and fantasies in your youth, then you went to school and pretty soon life got in the way. How you turn out has much more to do with how you view it than how you pursue it.
Yes, this movie has a “feel good” quality. It would be entertaining for a family, but lacked the life lessons of Harry Potter. J. K. Rowling probably should have used a different pen name and barred studio from using her name. Expectation bar would not have been quite so high.