Ladies and Gentlemen, I present to you, the wonderful, the charming, the quintessentially British, Newt Scamander! Newt is a hero unlike any I have come across before: he is beyond selfless, he spends maybe half of his conversations staring at peoples’ shoes, or at that interesting crack in the wall behind them, or at that niffler which is quietly making off with the contents of a jewellery shop.
This is not a Harry Potter film. Don’t be fooled by the gentle strains of the Harry Potter theme at the start, which meld seamlessly into James Newton Howard’s wonderfully emotive score, or by the multitude of minute links to the original series: Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is a work of art entirely independent of the Harry Potter franchise. And this, I think, is where the problems start. Some of my friends certainly have had difficulty wrapping their heads around the idea of something by JK Rowling which does not contain any of the characters who we love so dearly, which has only the barest of threads to connect it to the sweet familiarity of Hogwarts.
What people seem to be missing is that Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is only the beginning. In it, Rowling has begun to spin threads which now seem unrelated, but which will, over the course of five films, intertwine into a legend every bit as superb as that of Harry Potter. Maybe even more so, particularly for fans who have been there since the beginning. Because, cleverly concealed beneath a spell of concealment made up of new characters and new ideas, are links to the world which I fell in love with. I am one of those people who can learn about an Obscurial and my thought process will just dissolve into half-sentences—Was Ariana—? No wonder Dumbledore—because they’re like little inside jokes, which make me feel special and knowledgeable, but which probably just make other people despise me. I’m kind of an insufferable geek at times. But there will always be people for whom this is their first introduction to the wizarding world, and in many ways this film is for them. We all need to start somewhere, with relatable characters, and a world which doesn’t throw complex webs of information at you at every turn. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them will be that world, for the next generation of JK Rowling fans. They will be disappointed not to have received their Ilvermorny letters at aged 11, and maybe their first character crush won’t be Sirius (is this a thing?—I never had a Harry Potter character crush). This is not just for those of us who already know and love the world. This is for those who have not yet discovered it.
I’m now going to move on to characters and the fact that I managed to call two guys adorable in front of all of my friends. Jacob. Is. Adorable. (although saying ‘no-maj’ makes me feel awful). He gets swept up into this world which he was never meant to be a part of, and it doesn’t…Aaagh! I can’t talk about it because of those damn spoilers and it’s not fair. I need someone to talk to about this stuff.
Newt. Newt is also adorable. He is just exactly what you would expect a magi-zoologist to be. And when he’s with the creatures! Did you know a grown man talking to a stick insect can make a teenage girl swoon (I exaggerate, mainly because I was sat next to my brother who would never let me live it down if that actually happened!)? Seriously though, that was so cute I’m grinning just thinking about it. He also wears a bow tie. Bow ties are cool, don’t’ you think?
Tina and Queenie are just perfect. They complement each other so well and the clothes. Oh my God the clothes are so good. They have cloche hats! And the way they do the whole waving wands and home-y magic happens? Who says housework can’t be stylish? Honestly, I think we need more powerful female characters who can do that stuff and still be current and powerful and flawed.
I think this next bit may be a little weird. I think that Credence could be kind of hot. That may just be me though. And I felt so sorry for him. He’s hurting so much and then there’s the whole Graves thing (seemed a little homo-erotic at times what with all the face touching) which is kind of weird. He’s interesting too. Possibly one of the most fascinating characters across the whole film. And Mary Lou’s a bitch.
I’m not going to talk about Graves other than to say that I can’t wait to see him in the next film.
Go and watch it now if you haven’t already. I have said that this would be the highlight of my year: it really has been.