Nothing will ever give you goosebumps quite like hearing “Hedwig’s Theme” while the Warner Bros. logo comes into view. While much different from the original series, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them definitely deserves the classic Harry Potter intro.
Fantastic Beasts, as you probably already know, follows Newt Scamander who has travelled to New York City with a nearly complete draft of the book that will make him famous. Once there, he runs into some trouble when he reveals his magic to a muggle (or no-maj, as the Americans say), is taken into custody by a member of the Magical Congress of the United States of America, and has to stay in an apartment with both the muggle and a witch who can read minds.
The movie starts with a cold open, which can lead to a bit of confusion in the beginning. It seems like this is done so the audience can experience the plot as if they are Jacob Kowalski, the no-maj whom Newt meets on his first day. Without the aid of a pre-existing book, viewers may find it helpful to familiarize themselves with the characters on IMDb first. Also, be on the lookout for a small Quidditch joke at the beginning of the movie (I wouldn’t have caught it without the members of the SFU Quidditch team sitting next to me laughing).
The screening I attended was standard IMAX and some of the scenes were a bit blurry. It became obvious that the film had been shot for 3D and certain shots did not work as a normal movie. I highly recommend seeing the film in 3D, or IMAX 3D if possible.
The highlight of the movie is by far the graphics. All of Newt’s fantastic beasts are gorgeously animated. Be prepared for the niffler to melt your goddamn heart. Also, Newt’s mating dance with the erumpent is one of the best comedic moments of the film, followed closely by the group encounter with a baby occamy. Kudos to all the writers and special effects artists who were able to give so much character to the beasts. Newt’s pets truly are the stars of the movie.
The storyline as a whole though was good. Slight references from the original series (such as a mention of Albus Dumbledore, one of Newt’s school teachers) help tie in this new series. According to J.K. Rowling’s Twitter, we can expect five Fantastic Beasts movies over the years. While this first movie definitely leaves a lot of questions unanswered (is soccer the no-maj Quidditch?), it’s hard to see how Rowling expects to drag out this storyline for four more movies.
For now, fans can wonder what the future holds for Newt, the American witch sisters Tina and Queenie Goldstein, and most importantly, Jacob Kowalski — the muggle caught up in the magical affair. What is for sure is that Eddie Redmayne was perfectly cast, and Dan Fogler was a great addition as Kowalski (if not a little strange for those of us who know him as Hutch from the 2009 Star Wars parody Fanboys).
Overall, the first Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them movie will definitely be a hit. With the same comedy, drama, and heart we’ve all come to expect from the Harry Potter world, Fantastic Beasts is a solid addition to the franchise we all love.