Yesterday I went to see the Fantastic Beasts film, and I was so damn excited. I didn’t really realise how excited I was until we were queueing up, and from the point that we handed over our tickets to when we were sitting through the adverts I couldn’t stop smiling. Sadly we chose a different cinema to the one we normally go to, so I was uncomfortable throughout – but hey, that’s a small price to pay to go and see a new Harry Potter film.
I was just so excited to be watching a Potter film where I didn’t know what was going to happen. However, this did cause problems now and then: they didn’t outright tell us the names of a lot of the magical creatures, which was a shame because I haven’t read the book of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them since the year came out. I was therefore a bit embarrassed when people were asking me afterwards if I knew what something was and I was like, ‘Nope!’
One creature I did remember, of course, were Nifflers. These are probably my favourite creatures from the wizarding world, and I was always so sad that they weren’t in the old films (but they cut out a lot of good shit so of course they would ignore the Nifflers). I imagine them as a cross between a sausage dog and an anteater, so Warner Bros have kind of crapped all over my image of them, but I still found their version really cute, and surprisingly funny.
The whole film made me laugh more than I expected. Mind you, I often forget how funny I found the original HP films the first time I saw them. Remember ‘The spiders! They want me to tapdance! I don’t want to tapdance, Harry!’
Seriously, though, if you haven’t seen it yet, you have to go purely for Eddie Redmayne’s mating dance.
Redmayne was much better than I expected. I felt that he ruined Les Mis a little bit – although Marius’ character is wimpy no matter who plays him – and I don’t like his whole public schoolboy persona. This film turned that opinion around for me. Redmayne threw himself into the role, was perfectly willing to make a fool of himself, and gave us a wonderful insight into Newt’s bumbling, awkward character.
Generally, the cast was really good. Dan Fogler, who plays Jacob, was adorable, despite at first sight looking like your typical overpowering businessman (he is completely the opposite of that). There is a mix-up near the beginning of the film involving Jacob that I did predict, and I found a couple of things to be predictable about the plot, but enjoyed it nonetheless.
Although I found the character of Tina annoying, Katherine Waterston played her well. I loved her sister, Queenie, who at first I thought would be even more annoying with that squeaky voice, but turned out to be lovable and had the biggest heart of all the characters – though she faces some stiff competition in that respect from Jacob.
Over to our villains: Colin Farrell was excellent as dark wizard Graves (that’s not a spoiler – I think it’s pretty clear from the trailer that he’s a sneaky bastard). He reminded me strongly of Lucius Malfoy, with the way he commands respect within the Ministry and the self-important manner in which he struts around.
Spoiler alert – we do get a sneak peak of Johnny Depp, and I have to say I am NOT looking forward to seeing more of him in the next few films. I loved Depp in the first PotC film, but have found him to be an overactor in most of the other films I’ve seen him in. I don’t want him bringing his silly brand of goth into Harry Potter, and I don’t really understand why they’ve hired him when he’s currently facing allegations of domestic abuse. If a member of the general public went to an interview for an office job and the interviewers knew that they had been accused of something like that, it’s highly unlikely they would get the job. Why should Depp, just because he’s rich and famous, be able to waltz into a role as big as Grindelwald?
One thing that did confuse me was a particular scene, which I’ll be as vague as possible about but if you want to know absolutely nothing then skip the next paragraph…
There is one scene where a particular character is sentenced to death, and he/she is led to what appears to be an enormous pensieve. The executioner extracts some of this character’s thoughts and he/she is treated to a view of their own memories, which appear to tempt the into the pensieve. As he/she draws closer, it becomes clear that the liquid in the pensieve is burning up the chair on which he/she sits. But pensieves aren’t dangerous: Harry entered one about eight times in Half-Blood Prince alone.
This was all in all a really good film. I loved the fact that it distanced itself from the old films, presenting a completely different tone and acknowledging the fact that Potter fans are mostly not children, which is my issue with a lot of Potter things these days – for instance, I would’ve really liked to go to a book launch for Cursed Child or the illustrated Philosopher’s Stone or Chamber of Secrets, but they were all saturated with activities like ‘cast your own spells’ and hey, Bloomsbury, I’m not a kid, and neither are most of Rowling’s fans.
The insight into the wizarding world in America was great (fun fact: despite being set in New York, it was entirely filmed in London) and I’m intrigued to find out more about the anti-Muggle sentiment over there in the 1920s. I’m hoping this sparks some more spin-offs (Marauders series, J.K.?), but aren’t we all?
I loved the nod to the original films as well, with Hedwig’s Theme at the beginning and the same smoky titles that we were used to in the previous films. In conclusions, go see it!