The first Fantastic Beasts film was arguably the least cool blockbuster of recent years. I still remember my sister disparaging all the characters, saying they were a bunch of unappealing weirdos. Many people share this view, which is not surprising—traditional elements of blockbuster allure are noticeably absent. But, of course, J.K. Rowling intended it that way; her wizarding world has never been about glamorous figures in explosive situations.
Like Harry Potter, Fantastic Beasts revolves around a group of outsiders who are involuntarily thrust into a game much larger than themselves. Caught between everyday concerns, mainly romantic ones, and a malicious warlock’s nefarious plans, they are anything but typical heroes.
In today’s blockbuster landscape, this storytelling approach may be seen as heresy. However, Rowling is treating Fantastic Beasts as a fully fleshed-out series, not something to be rushed or simplified for the sake of instant gratification. The film medium does suffer due to this, as various characters navigate subplots whose payoffs come much later. But with a little patience, you’ll find that these elements are meticulously prepared for significant plot twists and impactful moments.
Tension peaks in the climactic ending, featuring Johnny Depp’s best performance in years. Before that point, Grindelwald’s crimes are somewhat subdued, but the film still offers a generous serving of imagination and entertainment. If you enjoyed the first Fantastic Beasts film, the sequel provides a strong follow-up. For those invested in the characters’ fates, the second installment represents a significant step forward. And for fans who can’t get enough of the magical world Rowling keeps expanding, the movie offers an array of new details and eccentricities.
The set design is genuinely impressive, outshining most blockbuster competition. Especially in IMAX 3D, every costume and location is a marvel to behold. You’ll almost wish you could pause the film to fully appreciate the rich details in each magical setting. And let’s not forget the creatures, which are utilized brilliantly to underscore the protagonist’s uniqueness.
However, if you found the previous installment boring and unengaging, it’s best to skip this one. Fantastic Beasts is a slow burn by design, refusing to compromise its storytelling. In my opinion, it is the antithesis of The Last Jedi—instead of taking bold, divisive steps forward, it sticks closely to the boundaries of its established world, banking heavily on nostalgia. With a young Dumbledore just getting started, the series sets the stage for major events that are sure to delight fans of the original Harry Potter books.
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