Let me start this off by saying I never watched any of the Harry Potter films in the theaters, but instantly fell in love with them when I met my wife. With that being said, here we go:
The HP films are some of my favorites and continue to be such. My wife and I finally broke down and bought the eight film series and continuously binge watch them. Those films are so full of life, love, and adapted well from the books. The world of HP is something that I love the most; the ability for you to be whatever you want, the typical story of from “nothing to something.” Something Fantastic Beasts doesn’t hit on, but yet seemingly brings to life the ability to fight for what you believe in.
The film starts out with a very Harry Potter style newspaper reel flipping through the main conflict in New York City between Muggles, known as “no-maj” during the 1950’s, and the magic folk. What the movie does right is create a stipulation that “no-maj” are boring and dull regular humans who offer nothing to society. Newt Scomander is played by Eddie Redmayne, is a different man then the rest of magic folk. He fits more into the role that Dumbledore had; always seeing the good in people rather than the bad. His character is full of witt, and loves with great passion. He brings a suitcase to America off of a boat that has many different animals in it, not from their world of course, but from the Wizard world. What makes this world feel like a Harry Potter film is the innocence of everyone. Scommander is a goofy, yet personable man who you can relate with. J.K Rowling, the writer of not only Fantastic Beasts, but the Harry Potter books and movies as well, does a great job at portraying a lovable man with many flaws. Newt is labeled as a “zoologist” more appropriatly a “majzoologist.” He studies the animals that are in the magical world, hence the name “Fantastic Beasts.”
He carries around a suitcase, almost like Merry Poppins did, which can transport him into a different world whenever he wants to go there. The world that’s created by the mind of Rowling is so magical that it’s hard to believe someone thought of it. The diversity of the “beasts” that are in the film is incredible. The movie starts out with some of his animals escaping his suitcase in the progressive era New York City and he is forced to track them down.
In this muggle world full of magic folk there has to be law enforcement right? That’s where Porpentina Goldstein (Katherine Waterston) comes into play. She’s an Auror that’s had a rough going in law enforcement lately. First she seems intimidating, but as the movie goes on, she becomes less tense and becomes more loving and caring.
Where the movie really shines is with Jacob Kowalski (Dan Folger). He’s the “no-maj” in the film, the muggle if you will. He’s the man who makes this movie feel alive. His one liners, the way he changes, and his feel good charm is something that was fun to watch. He jumps into this magic world after having a few encounters with some of the beasts that escape the suitcase of Scommander, he is in no mood to join in the crusade to save them. His suitcase gets swapped in the beginning of the film and then he learns the terrible fate with a particularly funny encounter. He eventually joins Scommander and helps in the capture and explanation of the monsters and how they fit into society.
Rowling always has a knack for having some sort of sense for portraying her personal beliefs into her movies. Innocent children fighting monsters? Men wanting to round up cuddly monsters? Discrimination against a group of people? Sounds like Rowling is trying to say something about America.
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The characters are easy to relate with and it’s hard not to get emotional when the issues arise with every character. Rowling does a good job at investing your time and feelings into every character; almost like they’re your own blood. There is however a good balance of darkness and fun. Kids will enjoy this movie just as much as adults.
The villain Percival Graves (Collin Ferrel) is just evil enough for you to want to hate him. Some villains in the HP universe are easy to hate, but this man is different. His actions at the end of the film make the beginning ones make sense. He’s manipulative, ridiculous, and ruthless; all the makings for a good villain.
The CGI is also something to rave about. In the early films (The Sorcerers Stone and The Chamber of Secrets) the CGI was hard to love and was average at best. But as the films went on director David Ayer did a great job at making the most of his disposal. The style and filming is that of the last few movies and fun writing and witty lines made those films fun and easy to love. Nothing is different about this directing style and character filming.
Overall Fantastic Beasts was a fun movie with emotional moments that kept me invested. I found myself wanting more, almost like it was a need. The characters were easy to love, the story was fun to follow, and the villain was clear and concise. I recommend this film for kids and adults alike.
Overall Score: 4/5
- Fun Storyline
- Character I cared about
- World I love
- Carried on in the middle
- Had a few too many endings