I need to confess something before I get into this. I’m a huge Harry Potter fan. I read the books in elementary school, saw each movie opening day, listened to the soundtracks for fun, and I re-watch the series on an annual basis.
As far as the movies went, not a single one disappointed me in the slightest. ‘Half-Blood Prince’ was pretty slow in the middle and I take a little issue that it didn’t delve into the Riddle’s back story featured in the book. But even then, the movie still turned out great.
I must also confess that even though I was looking forward to this movie, I kept my expectations INSANELY low. For one thing, the trailers didn’t totally impress me, at least until the last one they put out. Also, prequels and spin-offs to hugely popular franchises don’t exactly have the greatest track record. Growing up (and even to this day), Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, and Harry Potter were my favorite film franchises. I couldn’t completely notice at a young age that the prequels to Star Wars were less than stellar, but I knew, even then, something was a little off. As time went on I’ve come to accept they were not the best. Although I still enjoy them, one would have to be a fool to think that there isn’t a dip in quality. Then there is The Hobbit. Again, I still enjoy those films for what they are. But in comparison to Lord of the Rings, they are a bit disappointing.
So, because of this, I kept my expectations in check. I didn’t want to walk into this believing I’d have the same exact feeling I had when watching Harry Potter. Something about The Hobbit was a little off. Many things about the Star Wars prequels were off. It only made sense that it would happen with the Wizarding World of Harry Potter as well.
Welp. The magic of the Harry Potter world is in no way, shape, or form, tarnished with ‘Fantastic Beasts’. This is an insanely magical, delightful, and fun experience.
Maybe it’s because I kept expectations at the door, and then I just really enjoyed it because a good/fair movie always seems great if you’re expecting it to be bad… but no. Usually when that happens to me I say “Wow that was better than I expected” and then maybe I’ll watch it again a year later. I want to see this again as soon as possible. Not only that, but I want to take large groups of people to see it so that they can experience this pure joy too. This exceeded not only my lowered expectations, but my high ones that were still there subconsciously.
I think the best aspect of the movie is in the title itself. These “beasts” were so AWESOME. From a technical stand-point, the CGI for these creatures was really good. They were all so unique, and so clever. More importantly though, they all had these fantastic personalities. My favorite one was the little platypus that was obsessed with jewelry. I couldn’t help but smile during every scene featuring these creatures.
One thing I was scared of were the characters. What made Harry Potter so special? The core friendship between Harry, Ron, and Hermione. They were the 2000’s version of Luke, Han, and Leia. One thing The Force Awakens succeeded in was having Rey, Finn, and Poe being the new trio, and that was done so well. So if ‘Fantastic Beasts’ didn’t have lovable main characters, it could have fallen really flat. Fortunately though, I loved these main characters. They interacted really well and as great as Newt Scamander was, the stand-out was Jacob Kowalski the NoMaj. He was one of the best comic relief characters of recent memory.
Only a few short weeks before this movie was released, there was news flying everywhere on the future of this new franchise. Instead of 3 movies, it’ll now be 5. Johnny Depp will be playing Grindelwald and a younger Dumbledore would be cast. Then what really got my attention was that David Yates made the claim that he intends to be in the director’s chair for all 5 movies.
I didn’t take that bit of news lightly, as I feel directors should change every so often to keep things feeling fresh in a series. But after seeing this movie, and seeing how fresh THIS was to everything we’ve had before… I think I really trust this guy. He also directed the last 4 Harry Potter movies before this, and all of those had a different feel to them as well. David Yates has directed 5 movies in this series that have all ranged from good to great. Now I’m thinking this would be the best move as there are 4 to go and he already has an excellent statistic here.
Anyways, go see ‘Fantastic Beasts & Where to Find Them’. If you’re a Potter fan, you will not be disappointed in the slightest. If you’re new to this world, start here. The movie has an excellent cast, wonderful music, a really well done roaring 20’s setting, and a really fun and entertaining plot that involves the most special creatures and characters one could come up with.
If you’re a casual Potter fan, I would advise that you brush up on your Dumbledore history just a bit. Not so much to understand this movie in particular, but to be excited for what is clearly to come. I can’t wait for the future of this series, and I can’t wait to watch this again.