So it is almost midnight on the eighteenth of November, and I just got home from watching Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. I have been blown away. It is fantastic.
I will try not to be spoilery in this review. Here is what I can say without spoiling the actual plot: it is so good. I’m a little bit in love with Newt Scamander. And I want the next film immediately.
Seriously now. After the total and complete letdown of Cursed Child, Fantastic Beasts has breathed life back in to my inner Harry Potter fangirl – not that she was ever dead, let’s face it; I only reread the series last year. I didn’t realise just how excited I was until I was squeezed into the packed cinema screen hearing the opening bars of that famous Harry Potter theme song, and this hush just fell over everyone. I literally got chills, and not just because it’s cold.
So the film is a 12A here in the UK (which I think is the equivalent of a PG-13 in the US?) which is fair, as there are a couple of scenes that would definitely have given me nightmares if I was younger than twelve. Although, to be fair, I was an easily frightened child. There are also, to quote IMDB’s Parents Guide, “a couple of utterances of the word ‘bugger’.”
It’s chock full of twists, turns, and throwbacks to the Harry Potter stories – Dumbledore’s name gets dropped a couple of times, among others. Of course most of the characters we have come to know and love in the original series haven’t even been born yet, so no cameos unfortunately. Instead we learn about the American Wizarding community, how they live in constant fear of Muggles (or “No-Majs”, which, I’m sorry, is a stupid word), and also of course about some magical beasts. Scamander has a whole suitcase of these magical creatures, some of whom are named – Dougal, seriously – and some of whom are not. The niffler is my particular favourite, and is probably the favourite of a lot of others as well. I think it’s his cute little face.
If I were rating this film out of 10, I give it 9. I’m knocking off one star because there are two “big reveals” and I called both of them. I’m only knocking off one star because if I hadn’t been thinking really hard about how to explain why some of the foreshadowing is important to my friend who is not the Harry Potter nerd I am, I might not have clicked on the second of the two. Having said that, each reveal was pulled off so well it was still a surprise to discover I was right.
I don’t think I can say much else without spoiling the story. I just urge you to go watch it. I think I’ll be going again soon.