This is going to be the spoiler review for Fantastic Beasts, if you want the non spoiler version, you can find my video here.
I remember back when the first Harry Potter movie came out back in 2001, and the hype that surrounded it, led me to reading the book before the movie came out, which in turn led me directly into the fandom, despite being in my twenties at the time. J.K. Rowling is a fantastic storyteller, and I was just sucked into that magical Wizarding World, as we’re now calling this universe. I was later even more of a fan after learning that the books themselves were set during my own coming of age in the 1990s, and that Harry Potter, the Boy Who Lived, was my age, having been born in 1980.
The books have long since wrapped up however, and the movies as well, until now, we get our first trip back into this magical world, but this time we’re going back a bit, to 1920’s America, in this our first foray back, in Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them. Written by J.K. Rowling herself, so all the details that we fans love are there, and it’s directed by David Yates, who directed the latter half of the Harry Potter movies (which I still to date haven’t seen yet, it was a crazy period in my life back then, I did read the books at least) .
For starters, this movie, you really should shell out the extra and see this one in IMAX 3D while you can. It’s rare that I’ll admit that the 3D adds extra to the movie, and I haven’t seen 3D effects this good since Avatar back in 2009. From the opening credits we’re transported into this magical world, which we establish our setting and what’s going in this world via the magical newspaper headlines, so we’re aware that Grindlewald (Johnny Depp) is causing havoc in Europe, and we get some other flashes as to what’s going on in the world as well. As a long time fan I already was familiar with some of what she’d set up, about Grindlewald and such and it was great to see this stuff fleshed out a bit more onscreen.
What really worked for me here was the world building, if you’re not familiar with the world then you can still have a good time with this movie, but if you’re Potterhead like a lot of us are, then you’re in for a treat as good as some fresh butterbeer. I loved all the touches that the world allows, house elves, troll gangsters, and an elf jazz club singer. I’d love to see a whole gangster/private detective story set in this time period. Would be amazing. Just the implications for fan fiction alone of these new settings are mindblowing. Also, I loved the taste of information we get about what magic is like in America, what with the Magical Congress of the USA, or Macusa (Love their symbol too) Ilvermorney, the American Hogwarts…I want to know more and see more in this setting. Also, the magical FBI in their trenchcoats…that style was amazing.
The visual effects are tremendous, amazing 3-D work that really puts you in the movie at times, especially during any magical battles, magic flies by your head, as does rubble, creatures, and whatever else, the movie is quite the adventure. The cast all works their roles to perfection, I loved Eddie Redmayne as Newt Scamander as much as I hated his role in Jupiter Ascending, which is to say, a lot. Ezra Miller (Batman V Superman, Perks of Being A Wallflower) does a great supporting role as tormented Creedence Barebone.
I also geeked out when we see a picture of Newt’s childhood friend Lela Lestrange (played by Zoe Kravitz) and the implications of what that relationship might hold for both their past and their future (our past…I imagine…in the Harry Potter stories…wibbly wobbly, timey wimey) and then of course the moment when Colin Farrell is revealed to be actually Grindlewald in disguise (a.k.a. Johnny Depp), and we get just a taste of Depp quirkiness with his two brief lines. *Also, this isn’t the first time that Colin Farrel and Johnny Depp have played the same role, they both played a version of Heath Ledger’s character Tony, in The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus a few years back. * I’m sure this isn’t the last we’ll see of him, as we’re building (I imagine towards Grindlewald’s rebellion and the Wizarding World War II, set to climax with his battle with Dumbledore in 1945. It’s supposed to be quite the battle, so I’m excited for that to happen on screen.
Seriously you owe it to yourself if you’re a fan of this series to go see this movie, it’s a lot of fun, and one of my favorite movies this year. I haven’t seen everything I’d like to see this year, but this is definitely making my favorites list. What did you guys think about it though? What other time periods do you want to see done in the Wizarding World? Myself I’m biding my time for the Marauders era stories to make the light of day. My favorite time period. Till next time guys, be sure to keep it Reel. Have a gigglewater for me.
***** Five out of Five Stars