By: Felix Felicis (Two Beers) –
It’s almost Thanksgiving and, I have to say, there aren’t many things to be thankful for in 2016 thus far. The year managed to cork The Goblin King (David Bowie), Severus Snape (Alan Rickman), and Willy Wonka (Gene Wilder) to name just a few, before we as a country elected a narcissistic Cheeto Puff on an ego trip leader of the free world. But wait! There’s hope! Harry Potter is back! Well, kind of. Okay, not really. BUT IT’S ALMOST JUST AS GOOD I PROMISE. So strap on your big girl boots and uncork the vodka bottle before you carve the turkey while dodging passive-aggressive insults from your family this Thanksgiving, Boozers, it’s time to get Rowling. I mean rowdy.
Let’s just assume no one reading this review has been living under a rock for the past decade and agree we’ve all seen one (or more) Harry Potter movies (because Fantastic Beasts certainly does). Just in case you haven’t, Harry Potter is a boy wizard who, through luck and a fair bit of ugly crying, defeats an evil, racist, Hitler-esque Dark Lord just itching to wipe out anyone who isn’t a pureblooded wizard. Absolutely no parallels to our current political climate, NOPE NONE AT ALL. But I digress. Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them is a book used by future teenaged wizards at their magical high school, Hogwarts, written by a Mr. Newt Scamander, to learn about magical creatures. The five film franchise begins in a world before the boy wizard has even been born, and our Newt Scamander (a twitchy Eddie Redmayne) has just arrived in 1926 New York en route to another destination in the process of writing his book of beasts.
Pretty much immediately after clearing customs, all hell breaks loose, literally, from Newt’s super-easy-to-escape-from suitcase. You’d think a wizard would know a suitcase-securing-spell or even how to buy a bungee cord but nah, logic is for nerds, amirite? Totes. So after the niffler has niffled and a classic suitcase swap moves the plot along, Newt lands in hot water with the Yanks. A magical Boogeyman is discovered on the loose and muggle shenanigans abound as Newt and Co. attempt to Steve Irwin these bitches back in the case and save the day before The Boy Who Lived ever was.
Let’s just get this out of the way, if you love the Harry Potterverse and missed the magic each movie brought to your life year after year then you’ll love Fantastic Beasts. The ensemble cast shines in concert with one another (more so Newt and the gang than anyone else) and a special shout-out to Dan Fogler as Jacob Kowalski whose bromance with Eddie Redmayne’s Newt Scamander was a magic all its own. The authentic feel to the characters and wizarding world of Fantastic Beasts is the result of J.K. Rowling’s superb screenwriting and delivers an absolutely enthralling experience from beginning to end.
The visuals in Fantastic Beasts are worth a watch on the strength of that alone and capture once again the sense of wonder only J.K. Rowling can create. There are a generation of people predisposed to love this movie and a rabid fanbase ready to embrace even a mediocre movie if only it meant a return to the Potterverse. Luckily, Rowling and Redmayne deliver a worthy successor (precursor?) to Harry Potter and leave us wanting more; more beasts, more Newt and more magic. Fantastic Beasts lives up to hefty expectations and delivers a dazzling dip in the wizarding waters we’ve all come to know and love, seamlessly blending nostalgia with an exciting new frontier to explore. Harry Potter tells us the end of the story. Fantastic Beasts has only just begun the beginning.
Hi. My name is Felix Felicis and I’m a nitpicker. While I left the theater practically fist-pumping with maniacally magical glee, I have to say that Fantastic Beasts felt a little lazy. JUST A LITTLE. While I understand that most audiences will enter the film with a solid understanding of the Harry Potterverse (and as a bonus get some easter egg moments WHICH TOTALLY PAY OFF – I literally smacked another theater patron in the arm by accident during a big reveal) there are a few areas in which Beasts could’ve used a little more backstory to round it out. The film also lagged a teensy, tiny, EENSY WEENSY bit in the middle while overly focusing on the villain to set up the sequel (not unlike Deadpool’s X-Men overload WE GET IT DEADPOOL WILL HANG OUT WITH THE X-MEN CAN I HAVE MY ORIGIN STORY BACK, PLEASE? THANKS). Let me reiterate, these are minor flaws and in no way significantly detract from the cornucopia of cinematic kickassery that is Fantastic Beasts.
Fantastic Beasts is a spellbinding stunner of a good time; certified horcrux-free. Accio yourself a ticket today!
Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them (2016) Drinking Game
Take a Drink: for every beast that escapes. Take Two: for their capture.
Take a Drink: whenever Queenie reads a mind. Take Two: whenever she can’t.
Do a Shot: for Eddie Redmayne’s indescribably awkward mating dance.
Shotgun a Beer: when you spot the Depp deep in disguise.