Starring: Eddie Redmayne, Johnny Depp, Dan Fogler, Katherine Waterston, Ezra Miller, Zoey Kravitz, Carmen Ejogo, Callum Turner, Jude Law, Alison Sudol, and Claudia Kim.
Directed By: David Yates
Where I Watched It: HBO MAX
English Audio Description Available?: Yes
The Plot: Apparently no longer looking for beasts or worried about his book, Newt (Redmayne) gets caught up in a battle between wizards and… more wizards…over the future of the wizard in world, and the human one as well. Meanwhile, the character we all care about, Jacob (Fogler) is back. And after unknowingly enjoying a life with Queenie Sudol), he spends the rest of the movie trying to chase her down and get her back. This love is real, and if Jacob and Queenie weren’t here, I literally don’t know what I would do with this franchise.
This is actually my second time through this film. Kind of. The first time, was in theatres, my blind ass trying to follow this film and thinking I was doing a solid job. I watched the first film, and I thought that would be enough to be able to follow the second one. Now, having seen this with audio description and knowing the little things I missed, along with the fact that even after rewatching the first in this series I enjoyed it more, I’m realizing I don’t hate this as much as I thought I did. That’s a big deal for me, because even though i didn’t write an official review, in my head I would have answered you with somewhere in the C range.
But, this sequel has Jacob. And that’s just so important. I’m terrified JK will kill him off, figuring that Harry Potter survived without Sirius Black. He’s not Sirius. He’s a substitute for Ron, who survived the original series. The best friend willing to follow the lead character anywhere, even though he has decidedly less skills to offer. But Jacob is always there, so damn reliable, and likable, that he makes scenes better. Partially because he’s the only featured human in a world of wizards, so he becomes us.
I think that’s why so many people gravitate toward Jacob, because while we wish we could be an Auror or search for Fantastic Beasts or take classes at Hogwarts, our future looks a lot more like Jacob’s. So to see him managing to accomplish what he can, without magical powers, is a suggestion to the audience that we too could accomplish something similar if given the opportunity. If he was ever killed off, Rowling would be killing off the audiences portal into this world.Not to mention his adoration for Queenie has become something quite legendary in only two films.
But, why don’t I love this movie? The fundamental structure used to abandon the “Where To Find Them’ part of this franchise. It feels a bit early in this five film planned outing for Newt to already be leaving his creatures behind (not entirely, but for the most part), to join in on some fight, or to keep trying to save Creedence. This is a series that could have soared if instead of trying really hard to rope in people with the nostalgia prequel factor, could have just done its own thing with its own characters in the same universe, and done it well. If we were constantly joining Newt on a new mission to find another Fantastic Beast, and help him check off another entry in his book, that’s a franchise that stands on its own. Here, it seems like they’re using the brand as an excuse to make prequels, meaning if we got all five films (if we do, I’ll shit a brick), we’d just keep seeing younger versions of the characters from the movie. It’s possible that Lily and James would pop up just for fan service. But I feel like this path is violating the original agreement JK Rowling made with her audience with the first film. Soon, there will be no Fantastic Beasts, and it will just be Newt surrounded by younger versions of characters from the original franchise.
The Blind Perspective: The audio description changed a lot for me, because I didn’t know what I was missing. I loved getting the descriptions of the various beasts that are actually included, as well as the description making it easier to follow the film. Between casting spells and having to create this special world, the narration does a great job balancing all this movie has to throw at it.
Final Thoughts: Second time around did improve this for me, but it’s just my personal opinion that where this series seems to be headed is like those two paths that diverged in the yellow wood, but JK Rowling took the one that was well traveled, when the road less traveled would have been more interesting.
Final Grade: B-