At a certain point while watching Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, I couldn’t unsee the beasts’ resemblance to Pokemon. For example:
-Once caught, they are trapped in a small, slightly magical prison
-They help their master during battles, each using their own special power
-They are hella cute
-And so collectible
-You have to catch them all
-Colin Farrell is just like Team Rocket. JK I’ll end the comparison now.
It’s clear that our girl J.K. Rowling has been playing Pokemon GO. And why would she not? She is one of the world’s richest self-made women so she probably needs to spend some downtime chasing a Snorlax outside her local church, just like the rest of us.
I imagine when she conceived of this movie, she thought, “Ok, I want to riff on Pokemon, use as much CGI as possible and cast that darling Eddie Redmayne. And I can do anything in the world that I want, as I have escaped poverty, survived depression and also have my own theme parks.”
And like most things J.K. Rowling touches (aside from adult fiction … yet), the movie succeeds wildly. Eddie Redmayne is even more darling than usual, giving Ash Ketchum a run for his money. Colin Farrell is there, which is annoying, but *** spoiler alert *** it turns out in the next movies his character will actually be played by Johnny Depp dressed up as Macklemore. This is also annoying, but we don’t have to like these characters so it kinda works. Katherine Waterston even stops overacting about halfway through the film.
As the first of the Harry Potter franchise set in America, this film gets a chance to carve out a whole other world of witchcraft. She does this by reviving the Salem witch trials via a super creepy haunted child plot that seems pretty dang anti-religion. That takes balls, but super-religious people hate Harry Potter anyway, so it’s ok!
I personally would have made American wizards use their magic mostly for matters related to eating/losing weight, but that would be more of a modern movie.
Overall, Fantastic Beasts proves that J.K.’s still got it, and that she’s probably also TEAM MYSTIC! It’s not one of the best HP movies ever, but just like with our Star Wars spinoffs, we only need positive momentum, not an Oscar winner. For now, I look forward to being able to catch these beasts in a killer VR game this summer.