For Warner Bros, a blockbuster which goes down well with the critics was beginning to become as elusive as the Thunderbird which breaks free from Newt Scamander's case full of magical creatures, so the studio will be breathing a major sigh of relief this week as Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them breaks that curse.
Reviews for the first movie written by J.K. Rowling herself broke cover this weekend ahead of the movie's Friday release, and the general consensus seems to be that #FantasticBeasts will be a welcome lumos! this winter — rather than a torturous crucio...
In fact, the first entry into the expanded Potterverse is currently sitting pretty with 73/100 on Metacritic (one grade higher than Marvel's Doctor Strange) and a home run 100% fresh certification on RottenTomatoes. Check out an exclusive clip above, and then read the best and worst of what the critics have to say about Fantastic Beasts:
"Likely To Please Just About Every Harry Potter Fan"
The Hollywood Reporter's positive review (7/10) highlights the CGI beasts and chemistry between the cast as the film's main draws, and predicts #HarryPotter fans will be easily seduced by Fantastic Beasts:
"Likely to draw in just about everyone who followed the Potter series and to please most of them, the picture also has things to offer for fantasy-friendly moviegoers ... Much of the film's big wizarding-politics material will be appreciated mostly by those who thirst for ever more backstory in Rowling's universe [and] will doubtless be useful as the franchise progresses."
"A Rich, Fun Universe Which Also Takes Itself Seriously"
Head film critic Peter Bradshaw at the UK's Guardian newspaper lavishes wild praise and a perfect 5 stars out of 5 on Beasts, giving special mention to the movie's feminist heroine Tina Goldstein (Katherine Waterston):
"[Rowling has] created a glorious fantasy-romance adventure ... 'Fantastic Beasts' is a rich, baroque, intricately detailed entertainment with some breathtaking digital fabrications of prewar New York City ... It’s a very Rowling universe, dense with fun, but always taking its own jeopardy very seriously and effortlessly making you do the same ... Waterston is great as Tina and perhaps gives the Rowling universe what it never quite had until now: a really strong young female lead who could tackle the bad guys on equal terms [with the male hero]."
"Fantastic Beasts Excels At Finding Visual Solutions For Challenging Ideas"
Variety's highly positive 7/10 review singles out the romance between Queenie Goldstein (Alison Sudol) and no-maj baker Jacob Kowalski (Dan Fogler) as a highlight of Beasts, while also praising David Yates's visually dazzling take on prohibition-era New York City.
"What follows may as well be a high-end, period-themed upgrade to the popular Pokémon GO iPhone game ... David Yates knows this world as well as anyone, and he excels at finding visual solutions for challenging ideas ... 'Fantastic Beasts' has clearly been designed for the most devoted of Rowling’s fans, and though it may prove confusing to newcomers, the faithful will appreciate the fact the film never talks down to its audience ... Queenie and Jacob's romantic subplot is by far the film’s most charming detail."
"Newt's Beasts Are Brought To Life With Extraordinary CGI"
Writing for IndieWire, Erik Kohn awards Beasts a fantastic 83/100 and considers the scenes involving the titular beasts to be both tremendous fun and more effective than the darker subplots designed to set up the sequel, while also falling hard for the stylized nature of the film's retro setting:
"Newt strikes a charming contrast to these fraught political surroundings, pulling Jacob into the world of his briefcase to show off an extraordinary menagerie brought to life with vivid CGI. No beast steals the show more than Niffler, a platypus-like troublemaker with a penchant for stealing shiny things ... As with the Potter films, Rowling also keeps tabs on the human dimension, squeezing in a gentle romance between Jacob and Queenie ... But the real star of 'Beasts' is its heavily stylized, period-specific setting, a New York that’s at once nostalgic and otherworldly."
So, there you have it — Beasts passes its N.E.W.T.s with flying colors. The movie arrives in theaters this Friday, November 18.
Could Fantastic Beasts topple Civil War, Batman v Superman or Doctor Strange as the best blockbuster of 2016?