I rewatched the first two films in this series a little while ago, partly to prepare for this film as I remembered finding it hard to follow the second one when I saw it. Unfortunately that just reminded me that I didn’t really like them that much and so I wasn’t actually going to bother going to the cinema for the third. But I was bored, so gave it a go anyway.
I shouldn’t have bothered.
For a start, the re-watches hadn’t helped me keep track of the plot very well, so I was still a bit confused. Or rather unengaged, because I couldn’t really be bothered to work out what was going on. Maybe I’m just not a big enough Potter fan and if I was I’d get a lot more references and how things fit together. It’s also all just a bit bleak to be honest, Harry Potter does Nazis. Even if that was something I wanted to see, which I don’t, it completely jars with the whole whimsical “fantastic beasts” title.
In fact, given the criminal underuse of the beasts, it feels like the title is a bit of a bait and switch (although I guess it’s slightly less clumsy than “Crimes of Grindelwald”). Every now and then the writers remember the film title and throw one in, but they’re utterly incidental. Even the animation of them felt a bit lackluster, some nice design, but the interaction with the actors often felt flakey and obviously just CGI additions rather than anything substantive.
The cast is solid and they are creating interesting and original characters (or adding to existing ones in Jude Law’s case), and Mads Mikkelsen is certainly an improvement on the over the top Johnny Depp. I just with that they’d taken a completely different direction with the series. Fun adventure stories, mysterious animals, lean in to the ecological message even.
As I was leaving a young boy was asked if he liked the film. He replied that he liked the stick insect. When pushed whether that meant he liked the film, he replied that no, it just meant he liked the stick insect. I couldn’t agree more.