‘Fantastic Beasts’: a Wonderful Portkey to the Wizarding World
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The Harry Potter universe has always been dear to my heart. Even as a toddler, I was an avid fan. After hearing “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” was to be made into a movie, I hoped to become a fan of that as well.
“Fantastic Beasts” is a whimsical and captivating escape into the American version of J.K. Rowling’s wizarding world. Each character adds insight into the wizarding community and provides the film with more personality and charm (no pun intended). Although the plot is too slow to advance at first and rather crowded by the close of the movie, “Fantastic Beasts” apparated me into another realm entirely.
The characters are believable and lovable. Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne) proves to be a quirky yet gentle wizard who can relate more easily to animals than fellow wizards. Although quiet and awkward, Newt captivated me with his profound interest and the knowledge contained in his case of magical creatures, compelling me to fall in love with the beasts along with the rest of the characters. Newt’s supposed love interest, Tina Goldstein (Katherine Waterson), is equally spunky and rather headstrong. She is a strong, balanced female lead, proving her independence as an Auror (an FBI agent of magical world) , yet displaying sensitivity by trusting Newt. The lovable No-Maj (the word for a non-magical individual, also known as a Muggle) Jacob Kowalski (Dan Folger) adds the right amount of comic relief by being completely oblivious to the wizarding world and consistently expressing his confusion in an endearing manner.
Beyond the human characters, the beasts themselves add another dimension of interest to the movie. Each creature showcases endearing idiosyncrasies and a unique personality, which makes the creatures come alive and seem just as real as the animals in our own world.
MAJOR SPOILERS WILL FOLLOW! Skip the next two paragraphs to avoid spoilers.
As a complete Potterhead, the movie was slightly predictable for me. While many people were shocked to find that Percival Graves (Colin Farrell) was the iconic wizard Grindelwald himself, I saw it coming. Partway through the film, Graves bestows a Deathly Hallows necklace to the troubled Credence (Ezra Miller) when trying to sympathize with Credence’s abuse. The Deathly Hallows is an obvious sign of Grindelwald’s reign of terror, mentioned by Viktor Krum in the fourth Harry Potter book, “The Goblet of Fire.” When Graves was shown to possess such a symbol in “Fantastic Beasts,” it hinted to me that he was somehow involved with Grindelwald’s campaign. Although I loved the twist ending, I wish it hadn’t been so predictable.
I thoroughly appreciated the subtle romance between Newt and Tina. Their relationship was more playful and filled with mutual respect and empathy rather than gratuitous passion. The audience all expected the pair to kiss and the end of the movie, yet were disappointed. I, on the other hand, was entirely satisfied. I loved how Newt turned to Tina as if to kiss her, but instead tweaked her chin and left; it made the ending unique instead of cliche. Also, their parting characterized their relationship, showing that they care more for each other as individuals and not simply lovers. I do ship it, though, and I can’t wait to see their romance develop more in the next few movies.
Okay, spoilers are over.
Overall, “Fantastic Beasts” was a delightful portal into the world of American wizardry complete with heartfelt characters and endearing creatures. The plot and character interaction could have been much smoother and less obvious but was artfully done nonetheless.
Before watching “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them”, I was scared that my whole view of the Harry Potter universe would be shattered and all my expectations would be sorely missed. Afterwards, I can see that this masterpiece is simply another layer of the history and culture in the wizarding world, more specifically in America. There is one major fault in this movie: it will make you terribly ashamed and depressed to be a No-Maj. Unless, of course, you’re Jacob Kowalski.
EDITORS’ NOTE 12/11/16: At 7:24 p.m., we fixed some very small typos.