Newt Scamander arrives in 1920’s New York with a suitcase full of magical creatures. Great with animals, but terrible at keeping an eye on his suitcase, several of Newt’s pets are unleashed and must be contained before the entire wizarding world is exposed to the already suspicious No-Maj..es (Lady Woolthief tried to Google the plural of this word to no avail – can it just be muggles?) of New York.
Lady Woolthief’s Take – Spoiler Free!
Like many, Lady Woolthief was skeptical about an adaptation of a 42-page textbook. After all, her favorite part of said textbook was the fun hand-written notations from Harry, Ron, and Hermione in the margins. It’s not that she didn’t have faith in her
hero goddess favorite author, JK Rowling, but Lady Woolthief prefers to approach all things with a healthy dose of “hope for the best, expect the worse.”
With that said, Fantastic Beasts is everything Lady Woolthief hoped for. The balance between slap-your-knee humor and edge-of-your-seat drama is breathtaking. The creatures are infused with personality, so there’s never a dull moment when they’re on screen. Casting is spot-on. The villains are complex and intriguing. The protagonists are a likeable, well-rounded bunch.
Awkward and soft-spoken, Newt doesn’t truly come to life until he is surrounded by his creatures. He’s a completely different type of hero than Harry Potter. He’s not a leader, he’s not needlessly brave. He’s capable, but solely motivated by his love for his creatures and his desire to see them understood by his peers. Jacob (the comedic No-Maj), Tina (the disbarred Auror), and Queenie (the Legilimens) — all new acquaintances — finely round out the group of adventurers. Queenie, played by Alison Sudol, especially stands out as the candid, whimsical mind-reader.
Tonally, the story bounces between the fun of re-capturing Newt’s often hysterical creatures and a very dark sub-plot that explores witch-hunting. The subtext of that later plot line is pretty on-the-nose, especially given the current political climate. Lady Woolthief looks forward to the further exploration of these issues, most especially because the sequels are set to take place in different cities around the globe. Fantastic Beasts beautifully lays the groundwork for future conflicts, while investing in characters and creatures that will hopefully be enjoyed in the other installments.
Even though this could be considered a standalone story, hardly connected to Harry Potter aside from a few mentions of Hogwarts and some of its older residents, it might not translate well to those not already familiar with that universe. For fans, this is sure to be a delight.
While concerns about the ever-expanding wizarding world are completely valid, it continues to provide so many jobs, careers, and opportunities for people (ranging from graphic artists to roller-coaster operators), Lady Woolthief can’t object. She is still skeptical about Fantastic Beasts being expanded to a five-part series, but this first installment is fantastic (too much?). She intends to continue going into each movie hoping for the best while expecting the worst, but trusts if anyone can pull it off, it is her
hero goddess favorite author, JK Rowling.