Movie Review: Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them

Hafsa Badsha, II Year M. A. English

I’d like to say I’ve been as invested in J.K Rowling’s world as I was growing up reading Harry Potter, but the truth is, time passes and other fandoms creep in. A Song of Ice and Fire took over my life, there was a new Star Wars movie on the brink of releasing, and so my seven books took a backseat on my shelf, still much beloved, but not as frequently returned to as I’d have liked. Hogwarts and its characters were the warm, nostalgic part of my life, and it seemed like I’d dissected every element of its universe.

And then the Fantastic Beasts series was announced, and I was hurtling headfirst into the wall at Platform 9 ¾, ready to come home.

The movie is based on Rowling’s fictional textbook, and the move to turn it into a five part film series was booed as nothing more than a blatant money making generator move. I’ll admit, I had a sneaking suspicion that I might be witnessing The Hobbit all over again; gory overuse of CGI with no semblance of a plot or actual characters in mind.

No one shuts me up quite like Rowling does. The movie centres around the adventures of one Newt Scamander, an expelled Hogwarts student who now spends his time as caretaker for a range of magical creatures, all living within the confines of his suitcase. When he comes to the United States to release one of them, a Thunderbird, into its native land of Arizona, he stumbles upon a darker plot adrift. A parasitic force called an Obscrus is on the loose, endangering lives and threatening to expose the wizarding community. Together with disgraced Auror Tina Goldstein (Katherine Watson), her sister Queenie (A Fine Frenzy), and Muggle (I refuse to use the word No-Maj) companion Jacob (Dan Folger), they must uncover the insidious on goings that will pose danger to them all.

For a movie that was birthed from a textbook, (albeit a magical one), Fantastic Beasts is a piece of genuine, ingenious world building and beautiful storytelling. Redmayne is as much a touted showstopper as Scamander, but his co-stars, Watson, A Fine Frenzy and Folger are all worthy competition when it comes to who truly stole the show. The interaction between the non-magic and magic world, an element sorely lacking in the Harry Potter franchise, is handled with authenticity; there are moments charged with tension, scenes that are fearsome and tragic, and a love story that proves to be heart-warming.

The Beasts themselves are a menagerie of breathtaking visuals, and a testament to the brilliance of Rowling’s imagination. The Nifflers made me guffaw ridiculously loud, the Bowtruckles are adorable, and the Thunderbird will make your heart drop. Overall, they made me think of another large-hearted lover of magical creatures who was expelled. I’ve never wanted to hug Rubeus Hagrid more.

Fantastic Beasts also crowns itself with a few well-placed references to the original series, music included. Without meaning to sound biased, I give this movie all the stars that have existed and my whole heart. There’s never been a better homecoming.

[Photograph Source: IMDb]

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