As an avid Harry Potter fan, I was excited to see the second installment of the new series of films set up as a precursor to the novels. The first Fantastic Beasts film provided a new and interesting plot line, with many of the same quirks from the original novels and their film adaptations. However, I was a bit disappointed in this film, as far as plot progression, character development, and a lack of fantastic beasts. More importantly, I believe the audience at Bowtie Cinemas felt the same way.
It is important to note that no one in the audience of this Saturday 7pm showing of the film was under the age of 16. Frankly, some of the parents there with their teenage children seemed more excited for the film than the young adults they were with. We sat near an older couple, and a few other college-aged couples as well. The audience was largely adult, with the exception of a few groups of teenagers (sometimes with their parents tagging along). This age range seems representative of those who have read the original Harry Potter novels, as we discussed with Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. As the audience was skewed more toward a young adult and middle-aged crowd, the film seemed to reflect this demographic as well.
As I mentioned before, I was disappointed in the lack of plot and character development in this film as compared to the original series and the first film in this series. I did note that the plot in this film made heavy references to modern supremacist movements and relationship dynamics that apply to teenage generations and older. Without giving much away, the plot followed a similar line as movements we may see on the news, which led me to believe that this series was directed more at young adults, including the now grown children to which J.K. Rowling initially tailored her novels (including myself). Much of the character dynamics were violent, though often this violence wasn’t fully explained or justified through the plot, hence my disappointment. Additionally, only one new fantastic beast was introduced, which again seemed disappointing, considering the title of the series.
Though the film included a few cute or funny moments, the audience did not respond much. Despite a few chuckles or gasps here or there, the audience remained largely silent and still. Perhaps this was due to the age of the audience, or the shared disappointment in the film. Either way, this film presents an interesting look on the demographic to which this series is aimed, and that demographic’s response.