I just got back from finally seeing Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them, and I think this gif pretty much sums up my emotions:
As a massive Potterhead, I was both extremely excited and incredibly nervous for Fantastic Beasts. I mean, we’ve all seen too many examples of something amazing going on for too long. What if this ruined the wizarding world for us? And I know I’m not the only one who was worried. Why wouldn’t we be? We love Harry Potter. I was raised on it, it’s gotten me through difficult times in my life. So the idea of being disappointed by this film scared me. But after watching it…I can truly say that I was so pleased with it. It exceeded my expectations, giving me the adorable, heart-warming, and heartbreaking magical adventure I didn’t know I needed.
Eddie Redmayne Charms As Newt
I walked in not knowing what to expect, but before half of the film was over, I had given my heart to Newt because he simply he is so likable! A wizard not only out for knowledge, but desperate to protect these creatures at any cost. His love for these ‘beasts’ is both heartwarming and adorable. He is a stunning example of why people need to stop making fun of Hufflepuffs. He is brave and loyal, but above all he is kind. It is his kind heart that truly wins the audience over.
From Newt’s fondness for Pickett the Bowtruckle (I wasn’t the only one who cried when he had to hand him over, was I?) to the way he is able to care for each creature makes him impossible to look away from. He has this love for life, every life, and it’s awe-inspiring. When he performs the Erumpent mating ritual, you can’t help but laugh and smile, and at the same time kind of feel amazed.
Now, a lot of people are criticizing Newt as a character, and I see their point. We didn’t get a ton of story or depth (maybe that’s to come in the future films?) and as much as we all love Rowling, writing a novel and writing a film are two completely different animals.You can’t write a character’s story in a film like you can in a book. And I think, had the casting been different, we would have found our protagonist greatly lacking. However, Redmayne brings magic to every character he portrays, completely immersing himself (just watch The Theory of Everything if you don’t believe me). He brings a charm to Newt that no one else could have. Honestly, just thinking about it makes me want to rush to the theater and see it again! He’s that wonderful.
The Secondary Characters Are Just As Lovable
When we first meet Tina (Katherine Waterston), I was apprehensive. She wasn’t the most likable at the beginning, and to be frank, the American accent threw me off. I kept forgetting that this wasn’t the wizarding world we were used to, and that did take a little bit of time to wrap my head around. But as the film progresses she softens, becoming more approachable and likable. She opens up and drops her cold stare. At least, towards Newt. And her sister, Queenie (Alison Sudol) is even more enjoyable! She’s flirty and sweet, a deep contrast to her sister. But she also has the ability to read minds. She’s a very powerful witch, and I wish we had seen more of that, but as this is only the first film, I’m going to be pretty forgiving of that.
Kowalski (Dan Folger) doesn’t act solely as the comic relief, and that’s a nice change. An aspiring baker who finds himself unexpectedly thrown into the magical world, he encounters wizards and witches, a whole manner of magical creatures, and even love (who didn’t ship him and Queenie?). Together, the four main characters make up a great team with a lot of potential. While not as diverse as I think some expected, it was still enjoyable. And there’s still tons of time. Who knows what will happen next?
An Unconventional Baddie
Ezra Miller plays Credence Barebone, and though I wouldn’t categorize him as the bad guy, he was the one who caused the most destruction in the film. Within Credence lays a dark, powerful magical force known as an Obscurus. This force is developed when a young witch or wizard is forced to repress their magical abilities. The force is a parasite above all else, and destroys the person. Most children die before the age of ten. However, Credence’s repression is so great that he has been able to survive much longer, meaning his power is that much greater. So when Graves (Colin Farrell), who also could be considered to be the film’s bad guy, hurts and aggravates him, the power explodes out of him. It’s the most heartbreaking moment of the film. Newt and Tina have almost talked Credence down, explaining that none of this is his fault. But he is then murdered by on the President’s orders. It feels unjust, and it’s the first time we see a real anger in Newt.
This leads me to the real baddie of the film. Newt casts a spell on Graves to reveal who he really is – and it turns out he was actually Gellert Grindelwald. And what you’ve heard is one hundred percent true, Johnny Depp has in fact been cast to play one of the most powerful wizards of all time.
This worries me.
Now, Rowling herself has defended this choice, and we must trust her. But I really do not like this casting. I always pictured Grindelwald to be extremely intense, but weirdly charismatic. Someone who you could see yourself following. And I don’t know if Depp is right for the part. He’s a great actor, without question, but just because you’re a talented actor doesn’t mean you can pull off every part. And this was definitely not what I pictured. But, there are many films to come, so hopefully I’m proven wrong.
Simply Put, It’s Beautiful To Behold
This is a movie that demands to be seen in 3D. The opening sequence literally has the camera diving through the headlines of newspapers in a way that feels incredibly disorienting in an awesome way. As glass fragments and chunks of bricks fly towards the camera, you’ll actually find yourself flinching. The experience is worth the extra money. But the effects themselves are truly breathtaking. I need to applaud every single person who worked so extensively to bring these creatures to life. They were odd, different than anything we have seen before, but they’ll have you wanting to cuddle them in no time. I want them. I want to take them home and love them. And I’m sure I’m not the only one!
Overall, I was really, really happy with Fantastic Beasts. I went in nervous, came out with a huge smile on my face. I didn’t realize just how much I missed the wizarding world. If you’re a Potterhead, I definitely think you’ll enjoy the film, but keep in mind that it isn’t Harry Potter. Parts of the world are very different, and I found that, in a way, it was a lot lighter than the Potter films. Probably because, for now at least, the fate of the world doesn’t rest on our heroes. It’s a fun ride that will have you laughing, sighing, and if you’re anything like me, crying. David Yates, thank you for coming back for us. Rowling, thank you for creating Newt and all of his creatures. And Redmayne? Thank you for bringing Mr. Scamander to life in a way that no one else could have imagined.