This movie was everything I could have hoped for, and every time I think back on it, I get a happy little buzz of excitement.
The first three minutes where they played the original Harry Potter theme filled me with so much love and nostalgia. Then as it moved on, Fantastic Beasts took on a magic entirely of its own.
A nice thing about this movie in particular is that while it’s set in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, you do not have to know anything about Harry to enjoy this movie. It stands on its own, and that’s very refreshing. If you aren’t really a fan of the Harry Potter stories or were intimidated by the eight films, this movie might be a good place to start.
Without saying too much about the plot itself, I really enjoyed how the story flowed. Initially, I assumed everything would revolve around the main character, Newt Scamander, and his box of fantastic beasts. However, that was only a sub point of a brilliantly intertwined plot. There was a lot of world-building of 1920s New York, in both the Wizarding and Muggle (or No-Maj) world, making the pacing in this movie a bit off. However, I can tell that that’s just to get us geared up for a fantastic series.
Newt Scamander is the perfect Hufflepuff protagonist I never knew I needed. He takes all those negative connotations associated with Hufflepuff and throws them out the window. I love the way Newt loves his creatures, it’s the cutest thing. All he wants is to get witches and wizards to respect these creatures instead of immediately rejecting them.
A major problem I had with this movie however was the lack of people of color. I know that this is set in the middle of racial segregation, but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t people of color, especially in an international city like New York City. The crowds in the busy streets of New York were startlingly white, and I wish there would have been a more diverse representation of this city, especially during this time when so many people were immigrating into the U.S.
However, I did enjoy the female representation. The president of MACUSA (Magical Congress of the United States of America) was a woman, something I don’t think was very common in that time, and I appreciate the fact that she was a strong leader.
I need to gush about the special effects. I know that it’s 2016 and technology has advanced incredibly, but still: the special effects in this were so well made it really threw me off. They were so crisp and tangible, I could almost feel the magic and that movie room.
I can’t wait to see how else they integrate the history of the Harry Potter world into the next installments (hint hint - young Dumbledore battling Grindelwald). In case you couldn’t tell already, I’m incredibly excited for the next four movies. It makes me so happy to know that the Wizarding World is still thriving and giving joy to people all around the world.
Even if you aren’t a Harry Potter fan, I highly recommend this movie—just give it a try. It’s magical and beautiful in so many ways.
Cover Image via IndieWire
Ting Ting Chen