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Monday, November 28, 2016

Muggle Monday: Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them Review

It's time for Muggle Monday, in which I highlight something from the Harry Potter world. This is somewhat inspired by the Mundane Monday posts by The Mundie Moms.

But let's be real as to why I made up this feature: I just want the opportunity to post something about Harry Potter.

This week, my thoughts on the movie adaptation of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them:

Directed by: David Yates
Screenplay by: J.K. Rowling
Produced by: Heyday Films, Warner Brothers
In Theatres: November 18, 2016
Length: 2 hrs. 13 min.
Rated: PG

The adventures of writer Newt Scamander in New York's secret community of witches and wizards seventy years before Harry Potter reads his book in school.

I'm sure I wasn't the only one who was both very excited to get another story set in J.K. Rowling's Wizarding World and kind of nervous that this movie adaptation (based on the textbook Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them by Newt Scamander that was written for Comic Relief 15 years ago) wouldn't live up to expectations after the success of the Harry Potter franchise.

But there was no need to worry after all. I am happy to report that I (and it seems like the vast majority of people) thoroughly enjoyed this latest Wizarding World addition - no doubt thanks to the fact that the screenplay was written by J.K. Rowling herself (and not just written by another person and signed off by Jo...). It helps too to have David Heyman and David Yates (and heaps more crew members) return from the Harry Potter films.

What kind of plot can really come out of a little 42-page textbook listing magical creatures that J.K. Rowling wrote for charity? Turns out quite a lot, which should be no surprise for those acquainted with Jo's bountiful imagination. Fantastic Beasts follows a young Newt Scamander who has been travelling the world studying magical beasts, only to run into trouble upon landing in 1920s New York City as some magical entity has been terrorizing people, both magic and non-magic alike.

I know there was a lot of muttering about how the initial trilogy of Fantastic Beasts that is now expanded to five movies is all a ploy on Warner Brothers' part to get more money. But I truly believe J.K. Rowling needed to expand the movie series for legit reasons. The five movies will cover the rise and defeat of the dark wizard Grindelwald and begins in 1926 and will end in 1945. So. This first movie is really only the tip of the iceberg of loads more story to uncover.

For me, the highlights of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them was the myriad of magical creatures we were introduced to (and excellent CG effects), as well as the new characters we meet
(and the actors that play them). There is a new "trio" in these movies that is actually a quartet (pictured in the movie poster above) and I quickly became attached to them and their friendship.

I love Newt especially. He is essentially the wizarding world equivalent of Charles Darwin: just as a young Darwin travelled the world discovering new creatures and developing ideas to write his book Origin of Species, so is Newt planning to apply all that he has learned into the book that becomes Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. I find Newt/Darwin's curiosity for animals and nature, as well as their preference for beasts over humans, so dang charming and relatable. Eddie Redmayne plays the perfect Newt: very shy and unassuming around most human beings, very open-hearted and generous with all magical creatures.

The only - ONLY - negative that I have to say about this movie is simply this: I would have rather have had a book first. I'm not talking about the movie script that was published alongside the movie, I mean a proper descriptive book written by J.K. Rowling. There were many moments while I was watching the movie in which I wished I could get more insight into a magical creature or into the mind of what a particular character was thinking, like we were able to with Jo's written books. I realize that is a selfish wish to have considering we were lucky to receive any tidbit of wizarding world lore after Harry Potter ended, but that's just how I feel.

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them and I can't wait for the following four movies to come! If you have seen the movie, I would love to know your thoughts!


  1. I only skimmed this review, Aylee, because I haven't seen the movie yet. I'm glad to know that you enjoyed it. I hope to see it soon.

  2. I'm glad that you really loved the movie, as you know I did. I've seen it twice now. Eddie Redmayne is a favorite of mine so I was excited when I learned he was going to be Newt and I think he was brilliant. I really loved Ezra Miller as well. I'm excited there will be four more movies. I'll take anything from Rowling, but I agree with what you said - I think it's actually very much needed to really show the full story. I can't wait for more Grindlewald!


  3. The reviews I've seen have generally been favourable so that's good because I was planning to see this soon. I can't wait to dive back into the Wizarding World and was really excited to find out that Eddie Redmayne would be in this.

  4. I saved your post here because I only saw the movie last night and I only wanted to read through your thoughts once I'd seen it. Honestly, I loved the new setting, I loved the characters (ESPECIALLY Newt - I know I'm a hybrid GryffinPuff but STILL: PuffPride!), the magical beasts and the potential for the film series as a whole. Like you though, I would have liked the extra information and depth that comes from reading a book first! I said that as soon as the movie was over! Regardless I'll take WHATEVER Rowling gives us from the Wizarding World ♥

  5. I was very happy to be back in the world of wizards, when I saw this movie. I very much felt Jo's charm with the team. I am with you, I would have loved to read an actual book of this story. But I will take what I am given. I also very much loved Eddie as Newt. He did such a good job. I am looking forward to the rest of the franchise, but I am not looking forward to the Nov 2018 date.

  6. Yes!!! I loved FANTASTIC BEASTS! I'm so glad you liked it, too, Eilidh!

    I thought that the creatures were the best parts, too, but I definitely loved Newt, Tina, Queenie, and Jacob, too! It had a wonderful cast of characters, and I thought it still felt like it belonging in the Harry Potter universe. It was really neat to see the magical world in a different time and with an American perspective! I loved learning about MACUSA and hearing about Ilvermorny was so neat! My Hufflepuff pride was definitely in full swing with Newt though! Eddie Redmayne was fantastic!!!

    I do agree that it would've been awesome to get a novel from Jo with the story before the movie came out though, but I'll take what I can get. ;) I'm just glad that she was so involved in this one (and presumably will be for the following 4 films) because it definitely felt true to the world she'd created. :D I can't wait for Fantastic Beasts to come out on DVD though...I keep hearing about all of these amazing deleted scenes!!! :D

  7. I'm glad you like it so much. I loved it. I saw it twice already! I agree that the creatures and the new characters are the best part. I kind of would love a niffler. Also, maybe Rowling has found her new calling in movie writing? Think how much better movies and the world would be with more of her creativity out there.

  8. Yay :D Gorgeous review Aylee. <3 So glad you loved this movie :D I have yet to see it.. sobs. I'm waiting for it to come out in blu-ray :) I hope I will love it too. But I think so. I also love Harry Potter so much :D Eee. You are making me even more excited about this movie. <3