As many of you know, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them opened this weekend, debuting to $75 million at the domestic box office. This movie had a lot to live up to as the latest addition to a well-established and beloved franchise. The good news is that Fantastic Beasts definitely does live up to that and more. It brings us back into the wizarding world, but from an entirely new perspective while forming a new world of its own.
Fantastic Beasts follows Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne) as he arrives in New York during a time when tensions between muggle and wizard relations are a bit high. Grindelwald is over in Europe, wreaking havoc as he attempts to push forward his agenda, while MACUSA is dealing with an entirely new threat endangering muggles and wizards alike. A problem that threatens to expose a magical community working under far stricter laws of secrecy than their European counterparts.
This tension, of course, means more trouble when one of Newt’s mischievous (and adorable) creatures escapes his suitcase. In attempting to catch the little fella, he ends up bringing a muggle into the fray while garnering the attention of a member of the American Wizarding community, among others.
Obviously, a major part of the film is in the beasts, many of which were in trailers leading up to its debut. They were every bit as adorable and/or majestic in the film as they were in those trailers, too. The bowtruckle and niffler particularly stood out due to their presence in the movie, but all of the beasts had unique qualities to enjoy. It was a lot of fun seeing them come to life on screen. Unless you are a serious nitpicker, the CGI was pretty good for it, too.
There was also a lot of variety in the beasts from insects to birds to mammals and serpents. Some caused more trouble than others, while a few proved particularly useful for various reasons. If you’ve read any of the Fantastic Beasts books and learned about any of the creatures through Harry Potter, you’ll probably enjoy this movie.
Newt Scamander and Tina Goldstein
Newt Scamander proves to be a dynamic, fun character in Fantastic Beasts. He has an interesting perspective about the beasts he’s researching. Beasts that wizards have killed due to misunderstandings. There is a sense of Hagrid in the guy with his compassion for these creatures. This Hagrid-like quality carries through to his interaction with people, remaining a bit awkward and on the outside. He is also a brilliant wizard. Due to his knowledge of beasts, he even manages to find uses to save the people around him. While he may have his quirks and imperfections, I can walk away saying I’m proud to be a fellow Hufflepuff.
By this point, you’re probably already aware that Tina Goldstein (Katherine Waterston) is the future Mrs. Scamander. Fantastic Beasts is their first introduction to each other. Through Tina, Newt gets a first-hand glimpse into the American wizarding world and the MACUSA. While their relationship doesn’t start out all roses, by the end of the film they’ve begun working together and formed a bond. In some ways, she reminds me of Hermione. She’s a stickler for the rules, but her heart is in the right place. She’ll also do what’s necessary to set things right, even if that does mean breaking a rule or two in the end. She’s just the right kind of person to ground Newt to the rest of the world.
Jacob Kowalski and Queenie Goldstein
Two characters I wasn’t expecting to like as much as I did were Queenie Goldstein (Alison Sudol) and Jacob Kowalski (Dan Fogler). Both of whom seem like they’d be more background characters serving as the comic relief. Queenie proved to be a brilliant witch with a lot of talent working for MACUSA. Her interactions with Jacob were fun to watch as she was completely unfamiliar with muggles of any sort.
As for Jacob, I expected him to be a bit of an unwitting muggle along for the ride, not someone who would stand out on his own. I’m glad to say I was wrong. While he started out unwitting, his ability to accept what he saw and enjoy it all, was great. He lent some humor to the movie, but he wasn’t a character there merely for comic relief. By the end of the film, I was rooting for Jacob and Queenie as much as any of the others.
Percival Graves (Colin Farrell) was also a character that particularly stood out. Graves is the Head Auror of MACUSA, but a man with an agenda of his own. While it isn’t clear what he’s up to, right away, it is evident early on that he’s after something. That said, there’s still something about Graves that makes you like him and hope you’re wrong. And Collin Ferrell pulls it off brilliantly. Graves is a character I’d love to see throughout the Fantastic Beasts films, even if he is the villain. I can’t wait to see him on screen again when I go to see the movie a second time. And possibly a third. Maybe a fourth, too.
And of course, a story that takes place in the Harry Potter Universe in 1926 can hardly go without mention of Gellert Grindelwald. Considered one of the most dangerous dark wizards of all time, Gellert is evil and a former friend of Albus Dumbledore. He wanted to bring an end to the International Statute of Secrecy and reveal the wizarding world to muggles. In addition to that, he believed that witches and wizards should rule over the non-magic people of the world.
While he only has a small part on screen in Fantastic Beasts, Gellert Grindelwald serves as a motivating factor for Graves’ intentions. He will also be a major part of the upcoming films. Though Johnny Depp portrays Grindelwald, the casting has not been well-received by all fans. Unfortunately, his presence was much too small in the first film of the series to judge, but it’s still not looking extremely promising. I could be wrong, though. Either way, Graves will be a hard act to follow even for an actor of Depp’s caliber!
Fantastic Beasts had a lot of hype to deal with, and it lived up to every expectation. Don’t get me wrong; it wasn’t absolutely perfect. Every movie has flaws, and if you nitpick, you’ll find them in Fantastic Beasts, too. There were some minor issues, as expected in any film. Overall, however, the movie is worth seeing and definitely worthy of joining the Harry Potter Universe. I, for one, am glad I saw it and that we have four more films to look forward to seeing!
Have you seen Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them? Tell us what you thought in the comments below!
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is in theaters now!
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