I have been waiting and waiting and waiting for this movie to come to the theaters. As a lifelong Harry Potter fan, I can never have enough of the Wizarding World in my life. From the books to the movies to the theme parks, I’ve been loving Harry and the gang for most of my life. I started the series as a freshman in high school, so I really feel like I “grew up” with the characters. You can imagine my excitement upon hearing of another possible series. So what did I think? Is it just “Harry Potter Lite?” Did this do justice to the Wizarding World?
Newt Scamander is No Harry
If you’re unaware of the basis of this story, “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” is a book written by Newt Scamander that is required reading during Harry’s tenure at Hogwarts. Newt is no where near as charming as Harry and company, so don’t expect an endearing main character. Eddie Redmayne is fantastic in the role, but Newt as a character is just odd and weird and he doesn’t really jive with me. Newt’s friends, however, are incredibly interesting and charming (especially the bumbling No-Maj Jacob Kowalski, played by the hilarious Dan Folger).
New York City is Not Hogwarts
The majesty and grandeur we’ve experienced at Hogwarts for the last 10+ years is no where to be found in this new film, but you won’t miss it. NYC in the roaring ’20s is amazing (I so wish I had been alive in this era for the clothes alone) and is the perfect setting for this new film. Thanks to new writings from J.K. Rowling, released just in time for the premier of “Fantastic Beasts,” you won’t feel lost in this “new” American Wizarding World (please write more Jo!), but you may need a refresher in Wizard names, faces, and places if it’s been a while.
Wizarding Fans Will Enjoy this New Take
I was encouraged when it was announced that David Yates would helm this one. He’s directed some of the better Harry Potter films (in my opinion). When I heard J.K. Rowling was penning the screenplay, I was downright giddy. Who better to tell the expanded version of the story than the creator of the series herself? “Fantastic Beasts” wastes no time jumping straight into the story. If you are not a fan, or it’s been a while since you’ve read Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, you may need to read a little background here:
The year is 1926, and Newt Scamander has just completed a global excursion to find and document an extraordinary array of magical creatures. Arriving in New York for a brief stopover, he might have come and gone without incident, were it not for a No-Maj named Jacob, a misplaced magical case, and the escape of some of Newt’s fantastic beasts, which could spell trouble for both the wizarding and No-Maj worlds.
So Should You See This Movie?
Without hesitation, I would say yes. This movie is incredibly well written, visually beautiful, and absolutely worth your time (and money). Even if you are not a Wizarding World fan, “Fantastic Beasts” will entertain and engage you from start to finish. The PG-13 rating is accurate. Young children will probably want to put this film on the back burner until they’re a little older. Themes of violence, death, and mistreatment of young children are very strong throughout the film. It’s not exactly the warm, friendly Harry-and-friends-traipse-through-Hogwarts that we have been used to. It’s quite dark and ominous, as was foretold in the books. Just be aware of that when taking the kids with you.
“Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” is playing in theaters everywhere! Have you seen it yet?