With the titanic success of the Harry Potter franchise, it’s no surprise that people everywhere wanted to see the Wizarding World expanded on. Warner Bros. answered that call by creating the spin-off prequel film series Fantastic Beasts, named after the textbook J.K. Rowling wrote “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them”, which is written by Newt Scamander in-universe. The first film in this prequel series, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, released in 2016 to a mostly positive reception. The sequel, Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald, was not as loved by fans or critics. Many moviegoers have since been wishing the films have been handled differently.
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them followed the adventures of Newt Scamander and his friends as they tracked down magical creatures to protect them and to protect the non-magical world from the creatures. It’s certainly an interesting-enough premise, but the film also heavily featured the wizarding government tracking down an evil sorcerer. Both of these plotlines are a lot of fun for Potter fans to experience, but they don’t mesh together very well for one single movie. Watching the first Fantastic Beasts film is like watching two separate movies fighting for your attention.
Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald focused more on continuing the story about the wizarding government tracking down the evil Grindelwald. This was the absolute wrong direction for the series to go in. Yes, the rivalry between Dumbledore and Grindelwald that’s vaguely hinted at in the novels is something Potter-heads have been craving to see more of, but this may not be the right place for it. This subplot took away from the central one of Newt tracking down the magical creatures in the first film, and fans were hoping the sequel would clean up this issue and be more focused. Unfortunately, the opposite happened, and the second installment had even less of the whimsical critters and much more wizarding politics.
The series is titled “Fantastic Beasts,” yet the films are becoming less and less about the fantastic beasts. The story about hunting down the dastardly Grindelwald should have been it’s own movie or series. The ideas we’ve seen with him converting good wizards to his side as he builds his army to take control of both the magic and non-magic worlds are genuinely intriguing and worth seeing, but we’re seeing it in the wrong film series. Fans who hope to see more of Dumbledore’s past adventures deserve to see that story get it’s own time in the spotlight. Plus, the Magizoologist and writer Newt Scamander would have almost nothing to do with the war between Dumbledore and Grindelwald. We’re now seeing that story from the point of view of someone who was less involved.
The upcoming third movie, Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore, appears to be continuing on with the wizarding war and will likely have even less of a focus on the magical animals that have been promised to audiences by the title. Will this be a “Fantastic Beasts” movie or a “Secrets of Dumbledore” movie? It seems that even the filmmakers don’t quite know what they want these movies to be.
The Fantastic Beasts films should have been exactly what the title dictates: a movie series that showcases these fantastic beasts. The scenes in the first movie in which Newt uses his expertise to catch the whimsical creatures are extraordinarily entertaining and are absolutely what the whole film series should have been about. For the sake of more conflict, perhaps an evil wizard wishes to capture the fantastic beasts in order to use them to take over the Muggle world, and Newt and his friends must race to catch them first in order to keep them and the world safe. It’s a simple, yet fun premise that could make for a whimsical and exciting adventure. Plus, that would allow Warner Bros. to sell toys of more creatures, making it a win/win.
The series should have stayed centered on the actual beasts, but instead the audience was misled. We’re now getting a very different and unfocused story that could have just been its own separate series. “Fantastic Beasts” is far from an accurate name now, and the opportunity for this spin-off series to be something truly special has been missed.