I haven’t been this satisfied coming out of a movie theater since I went to go see the first Hunger Games movie.
At a time when immigrants still had to travel through Ellis Island to land in the USA, a time when bell caps and bobs were a fashion trend, a time when mothers would make their children take off their own belts just to spank them with it (and there were hardly any abuse laws), the movie invites us back in time to the 1920s.
Mix magic and mystery with a little history, and you’ve got the gist of this movie.
The movie is inspired by a published book of the same name, and is meant to be both a prequel to and spin-off of the Harry Potter series, taking place 70 years before the start of the Harry Potter series. J.K. Rowling, of course, is the author of both. She also took the role of screenwriter for this film. It’s no wonder the movie was so interesting and engaging.
Five films have been planned for the series already. Warner Bros. is in charge of it again, which I’m thankful. (Sidenote: I wish they would also go back to producing American Girl’s films as well). They love to take on projects dealing with New York (remember the Dark Knight?)
Harry Potter put magic in the hands of youth. This movie is putting magic in the hands of experienced adults. Yet, though most of the characters in the movie most were adults, the child in all of us was released. I felt that I could see myself in the only main character without magic. I was spellbound.
We are introduced to an interesting protagonist, who distinctly but humbly leaves his head lowered in most cases, named Newt Scamander. He is a “beast rights activist” of sorts. He travels from England to the USA to collect rare creatures and release rare creatures back into their natural habitats. He captures these beasts within his briefcase. Walking the streets of New York City, Newt stops at a meeting that seeks to hunt down “witches”, sparked by disastrous events that have been happening in the city. While among this crowd, one of the creatures escapes Newt’s briefcase, causing mayhem at a New York City bank. This is the beginning of a fascinating and complex story.
The pacing of the movie was not bad. There are many scenes dedicated to showing off the visuals, especially when focusing on the beasts themselves. There were a lot of action scenes, magical scenes, mysterious scenes. There were few plot holes, aside from things deliberately left out. It was well-told.
Even if you aren’t a Harry Potter fan, anyone could appreciate and understand this story. It was written in a way that can introduce newcomers to the franchise. The story only makes slight connections to the Harry Potter series.
For Harry Potter fans, there are quite a few “easter eggs” throughout. Mentions of Hogwarts, the spell “Alohomora”, and Dumbledore are just some of the familiar things mentioned in Fantastic Beasts. Mostly, though, Fantastic Beasts may feel like an entirely different series. In Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (Sorcerer’s Stone in the US), Fantastic Beasts is a textbook that Harry and his friends had on their reading lists. It’s a book describing the magical beasts in their universe. But the stories seem unique from one another, though the heart is still there. Everyone can go into this series with a fresh outlook with few expectations as a result.
David Yates returns as director and David Heyman returns as producer along with Lionel Wigram. With this team, this movie turned out to be a success.
I recommend people see this movie. It can be good for the whole family, but it may go over the heads of very small children.