When I first heard they were making this movie, I wanted to Avada Kedavra myself. You see, when the Harry Potter phenomenon first began, I jumped in, full preteen heart and soul. Little did I know that I would spend most of my childhood and young adulthood obsessed with the idea of one day getting some magical mail that deemed me worthy of Hogwarts. I fantasized about the day I would get sorted into Slytherin with my slightly demented owl, and together we would altogether avoid the main storyline and stalk Draco until he killed us. Unfortunately that time never came and my dreams died just like my social life. Now, Fantastic Beasts comes along with promise of another grand adventure, romance and magic. My reaction this time? To dig my heels in and wail. How could they possibly take this part of my childhood and flip it upside down? I remembered JK’s failed attempts at writing after Harry and I shivered. I felt it would be like watching a train wreck in slow motion. Did she need the money? The power? The fame? Are these movies somehow horcruxes, and she is gathering as many as she can so she can live forever? She took over a decade of my life, and I was not ready to give her another one. So when the tone came, emotionally kicked and screamed my way into a seat and waited for the waves of disappointment to drag me away into the sea of despair…but it never came. And let me tell you why….
Newt Scamander is a wonderfully magical idiot who stole my heart. Taking place about 70 years prior to the “Harry Years,” we come to discover a whole new world. Being an American, it’s nice to get a glimpse of what life was like back then, in JK’s mystical mind. The slight racism, classism, and constant bustle was reminiscent of a glamorized past. There was a slight disconnect in the previous films, when glimpses of the real world could be seen. Despite being modern day, their world does still take some adjustment for those who have never been to England. In this film, it was a tad easier to connect, because the history is more familiar (for Americans at least). Speaking of, costumes were a dream – with the exception of Porpentina (“Tina”) Goldstein, whose clothes were so loose it made you wonder if she was hiding a dragon herself. As beautiful as they were, the costumes, sets, and the plain faced actors all seemed to take a back seat to the special effects. At it was within the special effects that I got nostalgic and teary eyed.
From Swooping Evil to the Demiguise and far beyond, I was intrigued and mystified. Then, once you take those steps into that Mary Poppins bag and down the rabbit hole, that’s when I lost it. Even with your eyes wide open, it feels impossible to catch everything in this world within a bag. The constant change of scenery, the mingling of different species and their habitats… it truly was a joy to behold. You were able to get a true sense of character from these imaginary beings, which in turn helped you love the adorably awkward Mr. Scamander.
Though, his and Jacob Kowalski’s goofiness aside, we also have a much darker, sinister aspect to these creatures. For some, even deadly. This is the case for Creedence Barebone and his obscurial. The obscurial, which is a sort of amorphous black mist, is a manifestation of Creedence’s suppressed power. It has grown more and more powerful and unruly the longer he lives, pressing it farther and farther down. This is something which (MAJOR SPOILER) Percival Graves aka Gellert Grindlewald (Colin Farrel aka Johnny Depp) seeks to take advantage of. Overall it is a constant adventure, whether it be searching for bow truckles or an occamy; avoiding arrest, death, or an obscurial, this film took all the parts we loved from the “Harry Years” and slapped it on a screen.
There are new things to explore in this world, like Queenie Goldstein’s legilimens, a mention of a relationship between Newt Scamander and a Leta Lestrange, as well as a whole new terrain for creatures and the mention of one more wizarding school – Ilvermorny. Not to mention some nice little easter eggs like the mention of Albus Dumbledore or a Deathly Hollows necklace, this film plays on your nostalgia. So, my recommendation? If you’re a huge fan who is dragging your feet like I did? Cut it out, put on your big boy cloak and go watch it. Magic like this is like broccoli. You need it more when you’re older. So go eat your broccoli and watch some wizards fight.