Note: This post contains very minor spoilers. There is nothing about the major storyline, so there’s no need to threaten me with your Avada Kedavras. Hehe.
Photos courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures
Potterheads, unite! It’s time once again to relive the Harry Potter experience through Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. The first movie without Daniel Radcliffe’s Harry, Fantastic Beasts focuses on Newt Scamander and his visit to America. He brings his magical creatures to New York, a city being terrorized by a mysterious force.
Here are nine magical reasons why you should catch Fantastic Beasts:
- New Beginning. It’s a new beginning for the Harry Potter universe. Fantastic Beasts deals with a different time and a different place. There are different terms involved, different wizards, and of course, different threats. It’s 1926 New York, where American wizards try to fend off magical disturbances so they won’t be discovered by No-Majs (American term for Muggle). The Magical Congress of the United States of America, or MACUSA, for short (not much of a fan of the abbreviation, it sounds so much like another secret organization. Hehe.), do their best to keep things in order, while being wary of the Grindelwald threat back in Europe.
- No-Majs, time to shine! Non-magical folks like you and me are given the limelight for a change. The average Joe Jacob Kowalski, played by Dan Fogler, is a huge part of the film and is undeniably one of its best characters. His perspective gives us unique insight on how a Muggle or more appropriately, a No-Maj, would feel about the discovery of the magical community. In the Harry Potter movies, we just got the Dursleys most of the time, and they definitely weren’t good Muggle ambassadors.
- Beasts galore! As expected from the title, much focus on the magical creatures are given in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. I remember reading the book of the same title that J.K. Rowling wrote many years ago, which contained descriptions of beasts in the Wizarding World (and Ron’s doodles), many of which were not explored in the Harry Potter movies.In Fantastic Beasts, we finally see Rowling’s creations on the big screen, and yes, it is definitely worth the wait. The film is perfect for someone who not only loves Harry Potter but also animals. There’s a beast that looks like a fluffy beaver-platypus hybrid and another that looks like Yoda. Some are beautiful, some are scary, and some are just plain adorable. If you’re the type who imagine your pets to have magic, your dream has now come true! I’ll stop here so you won’t be spoiled; you’ll just have to see them to be amazed yourself.
- Familiar yet fresh. The moment the movie starts, a variation of the traditional Harry Potter theme plays, and we get eased into the experience. I literally WOW-ed while watching, awe and excitement running through my veins. However, unlike a Harry Potter movie, where more or less you know the ending already (if you’ve already read the book), the direction of the story is on the table, and it keeps you really excited for what’s going to happen next. I appreciate the fact that the trailers don’t reveal much (you won’t even know what the conflict is/who the villain is by watching it).Bar a few scenes, the tone is lighter in Fantastic Beasts, and the feeling of dread is not that much compared to the last HP films. Although it is set in America, it’s not a complete change since our main protagonist, Newt Scamander, is still very British. Mr. Scamander and his friends are all adults, and yet they have this childlike vibe, giving you fond memories of Harry, Ron, and Hermione.
- Interesting characters. The characters are the lifeblood of Fantastic Beasts. When I first encountered the name Newt Scamander as one of the authors of Harry’s textbooks, I knew he would be a peculiar guy with great understanding when it comes to beasts. Academy Award-winner Eddie Redmayne plays the part excellently. (For the Doctor Who fans here, his portrayal of Mr. Scamander actually reminds me of Matt Smith’s Eleventh Doctor). He has this awkwardness that’s a perfect complement to Katherine Waterson’s Tina Goldstein, who, based on society’s standards, isn’t too normal herself. Jacob Kowalski, an aspiring baker, makes you realize how absurd the magical community is, and reacts the way you probably would if you discovered magic was real. Alison Sudol as Queenie Goldstein is such a treat to watch. Queenie is a lot nicer than Tina but just as brave, and much to Jacob’s delight, is curious about No-Majs like him. Her disarming (Expelliarmus-like) smile is enough to bring warmth to the entire theatre. When I watched the trailer, I wasn’t too accepting of Collin Farrell as a wizard (since I will always remember him as Bullseye haha), but his Percival Graves grew on me while I watched. I’m excited for more characters to be revealed in the next movies, and of course, old characters with young versions of themselves (more on that later).
- Harry Potter and the fantasy genre live on. Much like Star Wars: Episode VII, Fantastic Beasts serves as a starting point for a large number of viewers. Although Harry Potter mania did not ever die (my friend is testament to this), Fantastic Beasts provides a chance for new enthusiasts to immerse themselves in the Wizarding World. This serves as a catalyst for renewed interest in the Harry Potter franchise, and even a boon to stories about fantasy and magic in general.
- Stunning visual effects. It’s been 15 years since Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone was released, and technology has immensely improved. For the best experience, watch it in 3D and IMAX! The fantastic beasts on the screen pop out wonderfully, and spells flash and flicker with vivid colors right before your eyes.
- Comments on current social landscape. At first glance, the setting of Fantastic Beasts is very different from today, given that it’s in the 1920s and there’s magic involved. However, the issues discussed there are quite relevant today. By treating Jacob Kowalski as a major character, the film makes a move towards inclusion, regardless if one has magic or not. It also speaks about discrimination by showing the reincarnation of the Salem witch hunters movement, and wizards who think lowly of No-Majs—both extreme sides of the spectrum. Cultural differences are also tackled, given English and American terms and practices differ on quite a few things.
- Surprise twist and a taste of things to come. Most of the time, I’m able to guess movie twists halfway through, but Fantastic Beasts really surprises with its ending. It gives you a preview of what challenges our wizards will face the next time around. J.K. Rowling has confirmed that there are four Fantastic Beasts movies left. Yes, please! I’m still hungry for more Fantastic Beasts, and whether or not it will still have the same central characters, people are now excited about the possible appearance of famous Hogwarts Headmaster, Albus Dumbledore. The search for the young Dumbledore is on! Moreover, Director David Yates is planning to remain at the helm, so he should be able to keep the consistency of the Wizarding World we’ve grown to love.
Beardict: Although there are a few scenes which seem somewhat draggy (and cheesy), overall, Fantastic Beasts is a great watch. It has whet my appetite for more stuff from the Harry Potter mythos. What can I say? I’m spellbound! As long as J.K. Rowling writes and David Yates directs, we’ll be in good, capable hands. I’m confident that it can only get more magical from here.
Want to be as happy as I am in this photo? Watch Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them now!