First things first. I am not a Potter-fanatic. I’ve read the books once and watched the movies and I’ve enjoyed the experience, but I’m not a hardcore fan. Maybe I have an account on Pottermore. Maybe I’m a Ravenclaw and maybe I queued up to get Matthew Lewis’ autograph around 5 times when he came to Armageddon years ago… But guys, I’m chill about it.
I was definitely looking forward to Fantastic Beasts though. The promise of something new and unexpected, something in the Potter world that I hadn’t read 5 times already (lol jokes guys, just the one time) was pretty thrilling! AND EDDIE REDMAYNE! I have had strong, positive feelings for Mr. Redmayne ever since the very depressing series called Tess of the D’urbervilles. It’s been wonderful to see him getting more and more high profile roles and well-deserved might I add! Let’s not talk about Jupiter Ascending though. Ever.
His role as Newt Scamander in Fantastic Beasts is pretty much made for him. Charmingly awkward and even kinda annoying at times, Scamander is seemingly the only lover of magical beasts left in a world that fears them. His magical suitcase (think Mary Poppins bag x 10000000 awesome points) is where some of the best parts of the movie happen. When he’s inside his suitcase world, interacting with the creatures, he really relaxes and becomes a pretty darn loveable chap. But even in the moments where he’s being a bit odd and unsociable, he’s well balanced with his sidekick Jacob Kowalski (Dan Fogler), the unsuspecting No-maj who just wants to open his own Bakery. Kowalski really is the heart behind the film and brings the laughs and even a few tears. Without his character Fantastic Beasts would definitely verge on unbearably dark.
Katherine Waterston is our leading lady, Porpentina Goldstein, a former Auror working for the Magical Congress of the United States of America (MACUSA). She’s very straight-laced and down-to-earth, which of course makes her a great addition to the team. Waterston did a great job of being a believably uptight character. Someone who obviously wants to do the right thing but is honest about not being 100% sure what that actually might be all the time. Goldstein’s sister Queenie, played by Alison Sudol, is your classic blonde bombshell – but with a twist. She can read minds and that obviously hasn’t made it easy for her to find a nice guy to date. She isn’t as central to the story as the other three, but she’s a memorable addition to most scenes!
Fantastic Beasts really does try to pack a lot into one film and its mix of heavy content and humorous content is pretty jarring at times. One minute Newt Scamander is performing a ridiculous mating dance to attract a large creature ‘in season’, the next child abuse is being strongly suggested. Or there will be a hilarious chase scene involving a particularly adorable and cheeky little creature soon followed by a death sentence. Yet somehow, even with all this going on it still manages to have the odd scene that feels a little too slow. It’s an impressive story that could have been packaged a lot better.
The moments when this film truly shines are definitely those involving the ‘Fantastic Beasts’ it’s named after! From hilarious little things to enormous and majestic beasts, you can tell that a lot of thought has gone into each one’s creation. It’s also a lot of fun to see an unfamiliar kind of Wizarding World. The rules and the setting of a magical New York are new and exciting, yet only briefly explored in this film. It’s also very refreshing to be following the story of a group of grown-up wizards who actually know how to do awesome magic!
All this to say that you should definitely head to the cinemas and check this bad-boy out. It might not be perfect but it is a lot of fun and it left everyone in my cinema clapping their hands and wiping their eyes. I am definitely looking forward to seeing more of Newt Scamander’s world.