This past weekend we were lucky enough to be in attendance at the Lumos screening of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them along with 3000 other excited fans. The anticipation in the room was palpable and the moment the Warner Bros. logo came on screen we were transported back into J.K. Rowling’s world. While still in the magical world, Fantastic Beasts delivers on a new level.
Since we don’t have previous source material to look back on the experience of watching this film is more suspenseful. While we’re familiar with wizards and magic, Fantastic Beasts is completely new. Learning about the way American’s view magic and no-majs (muggles for us used to British terms) is an adventure. Fans will get to discover a whole new world with it’s own dangers. Wizards are on the brink of being discovered by muggles and the community is on high alert. Newt’s appearance, along with the escape of his creatures, couldn’t have come at a worse time.
The cast of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them are all perfectly suited to their characters. Eddie Redmayne’s charismatic performance perfectly captures the awkwardness of Newt Scamander, who spends more of his time with creatures than humans. He pairs up with no-maj and native New Yorker Jacob Kowalski, played by Dan Fogler, whose comedic timing adds fun to the film’s darker moments. Alison Sudol and Katherine Waterston add depth to sister duo Queenie and Porpentina (Tina) Goldstein who are more than just pretty faces. These four combine into a ragtag team of so called “outsiders” to uncover a great mystery.
The cast is rounded out by Carmen Ejogo as President of MACUSA Seraphina Picquery, Colin Farell as auror Percival Graves, Samantha Morton as the Second Salemer’s head Mary Lou Barebone and Ezra Miller who masterfully portrays her oppressed adoptive son Credence. There are also wonderful performances by Ron Perlman as Gnarlack and Faith Wood-Blagrove as Modesty. We can’t forget two of our favorite creatures – Pickett the bowtruckle and Newt’s niffler – who are sure to be fan favorites. We have a few other favorites but will leave their reveals for the film. One moment in particular made this reviewer, who is normally silent while at the theater, laugh out loud.
Speaking of creatures, watching Newt interact with his creatures is one of the many highlights of the film. While there are many funny moments with them, we also see how much he deeply cares for every creature, even the misunderstood ones. The love and care he shows for these beings that most wizards would destroy is one of his best qualities. It is this characteristic that reminds us a bit of Hagrid, who also had an affinity for dangerous creatures.
The fact that Fantastic Beasts is completely new material and not adapted from a book is what makes it such a great experience. We were able to fully immerse ourselves in the world without any prior biases from imagining the characters in our own minds. It really allows fans to appreciate the characters and story that much more.
Fantastic Beasts is also completely separate from Harry Potter. So if you have family or friends that haven’t read the books or seen the films, they can safety watch Fantastic Beasts without any prior knowledge. Of course Jo Rowling has put a few nods to the Potter films that fans will appreciate. We won’t spoil them for you here, but do keep an eye out for at least a few Easter eggs, and we’re not just talking about name-dropping Dumbledore.
In short – we laughed and we cried, we cried laughing, we gasped, and we have a renewed love of the wizarding world. If you see one film this holiday season, make it Fantastic Beasts!
Don’t forget to get your tickets to see Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them ahead of it’s release on November 18th!
Filed Under: Fantastic Beasts Films, Review