When JK Rowling announced that she was writing Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, I was thrilled. I was so excited to dive back into the Potter Universe and experience new characters, plots, and the American wizarding society. When Harry Potter and the Cursed Child came out, I was worried. It is no doubt that a lot of what Rowling is known for, such as her descriptions, was lost in play form. I was worried I was going to be disappointed.
Nonetheless, I purchased tickets to see Fantastic Beasts a week early at Carnegie Hall in New York City. I payed $50 for balcony seats, front and center. I assume that the lower the seats were, the exponentially more they cost. Proceeds from this event went to Lumos, her foundation that helps keep family units together and kids out of orphanages. I encourage everyone to read up on it, as it will help understand some of the motivations for the plot.
Rowling opened the night through interview style with none other than Eddie Redmayne (Newt Scamander). They discussed her foundation and why it’s so important. They switched to talking about the film, and the whole cast was introduced. Rowling was everything i expected her to be, witty, charming, and smart. Eddie Redmayne was the embodiment of Newt Scamander as he danced in his seat. After the interview was over the lights dimmed. Then, without further ado, the movie started.
I was not disappointed, to say the least.
The characters were unique. Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne) is a lovable and dorky character. His initial adventure was hilarious, and had the audience laughing along, mainly to his actions. His character is comparable to Luna Lovegood, in the sense that he’s a bit of an outsider, and passionate about his beliefs. Porpentina ‘Tina’ Goldstein (Katherine Waterston) was a witty and kind ex-auror. Rowling gave subtle hints to her backstory, but it wasn’t explored in depth as the other characters. The audience is introduced to Jacob Kowalski, Rowling’s first leading muggle (excuse me, No-Maj). He was sweet (no pun intended). While he seems to be initially there to explain to non-potterheads about the Potterverse (and comic relief), he is -- in fact -- a three-dimensional character. Complete with a backstory and motivations and love. These three are our trio, who solve the initial plot of Mr. Scamander's escaped beasts.
However, in Rowling-style, there is more plots. As mentioned in the trailers, something is terrorizing New York City. We have our resident bad guy, Percival Graves (Colin Farrell), who takes us through this plot.
Other notable characters include Crevice (Ezra Miller) and Modesty (Faith Wood-Blagrove). These character’s stories weave in the themes presented in Lumos. They are orphans living in an abusive home, living without love and support. Their plot is woven in with Percival’s plot. Its surprisingly dark, a stark contrast to Newt’s hilarious adventures.
As told by Rowling, this will become a five part movie franchise. She’s already written three. I was shocked when there was no cliff hanger. However, that was never really the Rowling way. None of the Potter books left us screaming and on the edge of our seats. Sure, there are loose ends that need tieing, but Rowling doesn’t leave us hanging. It’s a full story that is ever-so-Rowling with that plot twist. There is certainly room for the story to continue.
In the next movies, I expect further expansion on characters backstories, and the introduction of new ones. This is because several characters standing in the background would have the camera pan onto them too long for it to be unintentional. I believe that this is hinting at future characters that will pop up and be expanded on. It is definite that we will also unlock more information about the first Wizarding War. Especially Dumbledore’s involvement in it, which the world has been curious about since the seventh book’s release.
Overall, the movie was spectacular. Rowling amazes us again as she takes us back into the Potterverse with exciting new plot, characters, and information. This film certainly deserves the 100% it achieved on Rotten Tomatoes.
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.