A Fantastic Beasts Review by a Harry Potter Super Fan.

For any of you who have even remotely had interaction with me – you know I am a complete Harry Potter nerd girl. 

Even down to my tattoos. 

Anytime there is a blip of something coming in the Wizarding World the whole fandom loses its mind, myself included.

So when they announced Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, I cried a little and then began preparing myself.

I bought my tickets.

I bought a new Slytherin cardigan.

Then I waited. 

There were mumblings happening of what was to come and expect with this film. A lot of people were disappointed in set up, cast selection and cinematography. So I’ve decided to clear the air on a few things – no spoilers, so don’t fret.

The Set Up

This is one that I’ve heard a lot. 

“Oh my gosh, it was so much set up.”

“There wasn’t enough storytelling.”

“I have a lot of questions.”

First off, if you walked away from this film feeling like you had questions – Welcome to the Harry Potter Fandom. I have been a dedicated fan from the beginning – and now, nearly 20 years later, I am still getting questions answered. 

It’s part of the beauty and the magic that JK Rowling created. There is so much depth to this world it’s impossible to absorb it all at once. 

Yes, there was a lot of set up for this film. But y’all – there had to be. 

This is an entirely new segment of the wizarding world. Untouched and unexplored. This isn’t Harry Potter’s world. 

I know, I know. 

Slap me. 

But it’s not. This is seventy years prior to our favorite boy wizard. 

There had to be contrast to how we viewed this world in comparrison to the world of Hogwarts we’ve all become so attached to. They did this with Newt and Tina and Queenie. And in my opinion, I thought they did a wonderful job.

They made sure to interlace characters we were already familiar with – Gellart Grindlewald and Albus Dumbledore. The still used the word muggle and referenced things and spells we were accostumed to.

Ultimately, this is a semi-independent storyline. Yes there are overlaps that will happen inevitably, but they still had to set up an entirely new world. Be patient.

Cast Selection

If you don’t think that Eddie Redmayne was the perfect Newt Scamander, get out. 

That was one casting call that I was so incredibly pleased with. He captured the essence of who I envisioned Newt being, down to his mannerisms and how he spoke. 

Overall – I was happy with how the film was cast as a whole. Queenie may easily be one of my new favorite characters. I love that you think she is going to have this stereotypical blonde bombshell persona, but they make her intelligent and brave and selfless. 

I love strongly written female characters.

Now. Let’s talk Colin and Johnny. Because I know that’s where the controversy comes in. 

I adored Colin Farrell as the villain. Face it – the guy is a great bad guy and we love him for it. There were moments when I wanted to love him but I hated him at the same time. As a film buff, I appreciate actors who can achieve that. I thought Colin was a strong choice. 

Oh, Johnny Depp. 

Say what you want about him as a person. That’s not what’s on the table here. I’m here to talk about him being cast in the franchise and how he is going to portray his character. 

And to be honest – I can’t really say much because there’s not a lot to go on yet.

I personally love Johnny Depp. He’s a super versatile actor and I think if anyone can adapt and create and breathe life into a role, he can do it. So I’ll sit back and wait to see what comes from him joining the franchise.

Cinematography 

This one. 

David Yates was the director of this film – he also picked up the HP franchise with Order of the Phoenix and directed the last four films. One thing Yates does really well is balance the light and dark elements of the stories. I thought from a cinematography standpoint Fantastic Beasts looked visually similar to a lot of the later Potter films.

There’s one scene in particular in this movie that is similar to the scene in Half Blood Prince where Katie Bell is hexed in Hogsmede. It’s those little finite details that are worked through the movies and across the worlds that I appreciate.

I’ve also heard numerous critics challenge the use of green screen and CGI in this film. 

Let me put a gentle reminder here – 

This is a film set in 1920s New York, and is built upon a foundation of magic and magical creatures. 

I watched so carefully for these the first time because I knew it was a sore spot for some. I even took notes the second time I watched it – specific to this call out. There wasn’t anything that evoked a harsh, “Oh my gosh, that’s so poorly done!” type of reaction from me. 

Unless you have an actual Bowtruckle in your possession to offer as a secondary option, I thought they made great on screen CGI decisions. All of the magic scenes with the wands, creatures and spells paralleled those in the Harry Potter series. There are a couple of scenes where Newt is holding some of the beasts and it looked a little awkward, but for the most part everything aligned well. 

As for the green screens – yes they were there. I knew they existed, but there wasn’t anything that jumped out at me. 

There weren’t any screen curtains flapping in the wind, or edges raised with a sound guy poking his head out. Which is how some of the reviews made it sound. Let me set the record straight – none of it came across as poor quality or low budget. In fact, it was just as visually pleasing as all of the other wizarding world films.

And like I said, the only reason you know they’re there is because, well, it’s not 1920s New York anymore.

In no way do I think that any of these things took away from the film itself, and unless you were watching for them, you wouldn’t even notice.

When It was announced that Deathly Hallows was the end, no more, I was devastated. This world has given so much to so many people. To have a piece of it brought back in a different way is beyond exciting.

So put all of the critical remarks out of mind and just enjoy it. It truly is another magical world to be completely absorbed into.

Welcome aboard fellow and future Harry Potter nerds! 

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