Hi, I’m late to the thread, ready to rehash what everyone else already covered!
This was frustrating, because there was a lot to like, but a few really huge problems sucked the fun out of the film. Problem number one is Eddie Redmayne’s Newt Scamander, and that’s going to be hard to work around.
I really liked the whole cast and the characters they played except for Eddie as Newt. Tina, Queenie, and Kowalski were all great, and even Colin Farrell seemed energetic and engaged as Graves.
But Newt? Yuck. I think the only thing I’ve seen Redmayne in before is Les Misérables, where I hated his nasal singing, but I didn’t have any reason to write him off entirely as an actor. With two Oscar nominations and a win, I assume he’s at the very least a competant actor who I shouldn’t blame Newt’s problems on, but wherever the problem with his performance originates, I can’t imagine watching any more movies about this guy. For most of the movie I imagine him being coached like a puppy or a small child from just off screen. “Come on Eddie, you can do it! Finish the line! Okay now look up, make some eye contact! Just for a second Eddie, you can do it! GOOD BOY!” I guess his character is supposed to be quirky? Or bad with people? Or overcoming a developmental disorder? I don’t know what they were going for, but I don’t understand why everyone around him had so much patience. He’s bumbling around carelessly for the first two thirds of the movie—a supposed expert on these creatures who at every turn loses track of them, can’t contain them, and chooses the most disruptive, attention-drawing methods of trying to recapture them. When a simple explanation could quickly clear up some confusion, or make things easier for his co-stars, he’s silent. If he was supposed to be lovably clumsy and reserved, he was the opposite.
And that ties into the second problem, all the digital monster hunting slap-stick of the first half of the movie. Bored me to tears. No weight, no consequence, in plot or in artistic merit. If it had been part of a clear decision to target younger viewers again, if the goal was to start a new Potterverse franchise that little children could start that would mature as they did, that would’ve made sense. But then they’re executing wizards in acid for negligence the next minute.
So yeah, between the cartoonish monster hunt and the insufferable lead character, I was angry by the end that so many other interesting characters were wasted. The setting works too, in all those regards I was more engaged than I expected to be. I just have no idea what’s up with Newt, and don’t want to see any more movies about him.
Unrelated observation: Does anyone have a lower opinion of government than J.K. Rowling? Throughout all the movies, they’re always stubbornly wrong about everything, and apparently it’s a global problem.