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Filed under 2016-2017, Reviews

Fantastic Beasts

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(SPOILER WARNING)

 

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is the latest outcome of J.K. Rowling’s work on the wizarding world she created through the Harry Potter series. This movie came out November 18th, 2016 and has been met with many reviews. I have been a huge Potterhead (slang for Harry Potter fan) almost all of my life; I grew up with the movies and later read the series ten times within two years.

Within Harry Potter, there is a textbook the students must own called Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them written by Newton “Newt” Scamander. Newt Scamander is a magizoologist who also happens to be the star of this Harry Potter prequel set in the Roaring 20’s. J.K. Rowling released a short book based off of this. It was a quick snippet of a large amount of info on the many magical animals in the wizarding world. Originally set to be a trilogy, it has recently been released that this new series about Newt will become five movies.

The advertising for Fantastic Beasts did not, in my opinion, compensate for the actual film. It threw me off. What I took away from trailers is that this story was simply about Newt Scamander coming into New York to write his book Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. I thought that he simply used an Extension Charm to put the creatures he found into his suitcase for further research, and that one of them escaped to wreak havoc on the city.

Let me just say that there was a lot more to it than I originally thought.

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them explores a whole new part of the wizarding world, a part I never thought about. It gives me an opportunity to learn about what I’ve always found most alluring about the Harry Potter series — the magical creatures. But that’s not all. I knew the movie would do that for me. Here’s what it does that surprised me:

At the end of the Harry Potter series, Harry attempts to learn more about the headmaster of his school, Albus Dumbledore. I thought this was pointless, and didn’t take much interest in it unless it tied directly with the main plot. This movie changed everything for me. However uninteresting the Dumbledores, Gellert Grindelwald, and the Elder Wand originally seemed, this movie sparked my interest. Suddenly Grindelwald became more prominent than I ever imagined, and it made me want more. I want to know exactly who Grindelwald is, I want to know all about the Dumbledores, I want to delve more into the history of all of this, and into the fine details. And I want to know explicitly how Newt Scamander ties in with all of it.

In review, I would like to start with the main character. Eddie Redmayne is fantastic playing the role of Newt Scamander, as are all of the actors and their parts. The casting was very on point. As for Newt, I loved his character. By far one of my favorites in all of the franchise. From what I’ve seen, he’s the perfect hero for the story. He’s humble, brave, caring — more so than our very own Harry Potter, I daresay. He’s human too. There are hints of love interests, it is said that he was expelled from his school after an accident with a magical creature, and he’s got this utterly ridiculous geeky side when it comes to his beasts. The only thing that’s missing is the character development. There wasn’t much of that with many of the characters, in fact. I have no idea what the future plot may bring, but I hope four more movies can bring more focus on our protagonist Newt himself as well as other characters.

Next is the creatures themselves. I, in all honesty, could live in Newt Scamander’s suitcase. How on earth did he learn an Extension Charm so powerful when he was expelled from Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry? When you jump into his suitcase, you are met with a huge expanse of just about anything you could need to care for a magical creature, and it is necessary too. This movie has fantastic CGI in use! All of the creatures were so beautiful and realistic. The whole scene in which you first see inside his suitcase is just so beautiful. All of these animals in mocks of their natural homes, happy and under good care. It’s amazing.

Once again, this movie has made me want more. Can only four more movies really suffice my interest? I’m so curious, I don’t know how I’ll wait for Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them 2 in 2018. A whole new plot was introduced with a new hero, a new villain, a new backstory, and, or course, a whole new world of magic.

 

(SPOILERS BEGIN HERE)

 

Continuing my review, I believe that the movie was amazing. There’s so much to explore. Let me start with the casting again. I couldn’t believe that Johnny Depp was Gellert Grindelwald! He is an amazing actor and I am extremely excited to see him be a part of this! As for Dan Folger playing Jacob Kowalski and Alison Sudol playing Queenie Goldstein, that was spot on. They play their parts perfectly, and the best part is seeing the two of them interact in the movie. I love how they are paired together romantically, by the way. Even the costume design for the characters was perfect.

As for the directing, I think that was great too. The way the directors showed the character Percival Graves in the movie had me confused, but I never suspected that he actually was evil wizard Gellert Grindelwald. At the beginning of the movie there was an angle centered on the back of Grindelwald’s head, and when the scene changed over, it was the back of Percival Graves’s head, who had the same exact hairstyle. Throughout the movie things about Graves were revealed that led me to wonder where he tied in, and just who’s side he was on. It was just a huge “aha” moment for me when it turned out that he was Gellert Grindelwald. Director David Yates sure gave us hints, but not enough to spoil it. I have so many questions.

When they first spoke about the Obscurus, I had many questions as well. It was their definition of it that made me think. An Obscurus is a force of some sort that resides within a young witch or wizard, but only if the magic of that witch or wizard has been suppressed. If someone is kept from doing magic, an Obscurus forms, wreaks havoc, and then the child which it belongs to dies. They don’t normally live past adolescence. I sat watching in the theatre and almost said aloud, “Arianna.” Arianna Dumbledore. Did she have an Obscurus? That theory is under much speculation, but I guess we’ll have to wait and see what happens.

And Newt. Newt Scamander. There is so much character development I’m waiting to see with him. First, I can’t get passed that scene where the Erumpent escaped from his suitcase, and to lure her back he performed a sort of mating dance. It was hilarious. Really. I don’t know how they filmed that without all laughing. Once again, I love the character they’ve made for this story. Newt is just Newt. He’s perfect! I just want to find out more about him. Will he ever go back to the U.S. to see possible love interest Tina? Or will she go to England to find him? Fantastic Men and Where to Find Them? What about this girl, Leta Lestrange? Lestrange. Well that sounds awfully familiar to any Harry Potter fans. Will he get together with Leta? Why is he so reluctant to talk about her in the movie? Luna Lovegood from the Harry Potter series grows up to marry a descendant of Newt’s. Who did Newt marry? How do all of these characters tie together anyway? And why exactly did Newt get expelled from Hogwarts? How old was he? He knows a lot of magic. How? And I could’ve sworn they break your wand if you’re expelled. Why does Newt still have his? And my goodness, will I get to learn more about the fantastic beasts even with this whole Grindelwald plot? Will Grindelwald go after Newt since Newt exposed him? Can we see more of Frank the Thunderbird, and learn more about the Swooping Evil’s venom? Amazing that it wiped the memory of all of those people. That was genius, I think. I want to learn all of it!

One last surprise for you. Should you own the short Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them book that includes sort of an encyclopedia of 75 beasts, take another look at it. I’ve owned it for a few years, and after seeing the movie I looked over it again. Check out pages xiv, xviii, and 88. Perhaps Newt does end up with Tina. But that’s not all. I think that maybe J.K. Rowling has always known of Obscurus, a wizarding publisher being named after it. She just hasn’t shared the information with us until now. Just how she always had a story for Newt Scamander. Enlighten me!

This movie was amazing, and I strongly suggest you see it if you haven’t. If you have, I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did. I for one can’t wait for the next one.

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