Eppler: 'Fantastic Beasts' and what to see instead - FOX34 Lubbock

Eppler: 'Fantastic Beasts' and what to see instead

As a fan of the "Harry Potter" books and movies, I can't say I'm all that excited about a spin-off series about a guy who wrote a textbook Harry and his friends read in school. That's a bit of a reach.

In the "Potter" series, author J.K. Rowling developed interesting characters and weaved an intricate story through a world that continued to surprise us. But there's just not much of that going on in "Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them."

The big problem is Rowling, who wrote the screenplay, builds a weak story around a pretty bland hero - Newt Scamander, played with all awkward and shy affectations by Eddie Redmayne.

He travels to America from England in the 20s with a suitcase full of creatures. But he's a terrible zookeeper and several of them get loose, attracting the attention of the magic and non-magic world. 

Some of the supporting characters are fun, especially Dan Fogler as a non-wizard along for the ride. And I rather enjoyed the movie's political subtext that feels especially timely right now. But I mostly found the whole thing a bit of a bore. The story never pulled me in, the characters barely register, and the whole thing feels pretty artificial.

The fantastic beasts I would recommend seeing can be found in "Arrival." They're aliens who have come to Earth, and the journey is in finding out why.

Amy Adams, who is fast becoming my favorite actress, is wonderful as a linguist brought in by the U.S. government to try and learn the alien language to communicate.

The script by Eric Heisserer is pretty brilliant by taking you in unexpected directions with big lingering questions, and it's directed with finesse by Dennis Villanueve.

"Arrival" is one of the better movies of the year - one that sticks with you and commands repeat viewings. 

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