Monday, November 21, 2016

Going Back to the Magical World: Thoughts on Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

Five years ago, I went to see Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2, the last film in the Harry Potter series, with my mother and left the theater with tears all over my face. My mom was very confused, just like so many other people whenever they see me fangirling over Harry Potter like a crazy person, but, hey, how could I not be emotional? 

Harry Potter is a huge part of my life. The first book and its movie adaptation came out when I was in elementary school and the last ones were released at the end of my teenage years, so I practically grew up with the series. Harry Potter is my childhood hero. He shows that a hero is not someone who kills the bad guy, but someone who cares about other people. A hero is someone who is willing to sacrifice themselves for other people and not afraid to lose, like Harry. And that world of wizards and witches... Oh man, that world really helped me free my imagination. Harry Potter also helped me find myself. You know, I wouldn't have chosen English Literature as my major if Harry Potter hadn't made me realize how much I loved English and literature. Harry Potter also has a role in my decision to be a teacher. One day, I was thinking about what I wanted to be in the future. I knew that I liked teaching at that time, but I wasn't sure about being a teacher professionally. But then I remembered Albus Dumbledore, one of the greatest man in the Harry Potter universe whose passion is to teach. That was when I realized that I shouldn't be unsure about teaching just because it isn't a popular career choice. I love teaching, like Dumbledore, so who cares if it's not popular. Besides, Dumbledore is a teacher and he's awesome, so I can be a teacher and awesome too hahaha.

So, yeah, Harry Potter means a lot to me. Seeing the last movie was like saying goodbye to a childhood best friend to me. It was bittersweet and so emotional. 

And when it was announced that there will be new films set in the Harry Potter universe, it felt like getting a phone call from that childhood best friend who tells you that he's coming to see you.

Our new favourite merry band
(Left to right) Jacob Kowalski, Tina Goldstein, Queenie Goldstein and Newt Scamander.

Oh yeah, the witches and the wizards are coming back in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them! This film is not a sequel of Deathly Hallows Part 2, It is more like a spin-off of Harry Potter. If you're a diehard fan of the series, you must know about a textbook entitled Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them by Newt Scamander that is used by Harry and his friends during their time as Hogwarts students. This film follows the adventures of Newt Scamander, a magizoologist who is very fond of magical creatures (Sounds like Hagrid, eh?). In this film, Young Newt arrives in the United States with his case, which is full of magical creatures. Some of the creatures escape from his case and somehow it makes Newt get linked to Gellert Grindelward, a dark wizard who has  a long history with none other than Albus Dumbledore and is just as dangerous as You-Know-Who.

As a Potterhead, I am very happy with this movie. Like an old friend whom you haven't seen for a long time, this movie is different from the one that we knew and grew up with, but it still has those little things that let you know it is the same thing that you once loved as a kid. Fantastic Beasts features some things that are so Harry Potter, like the theme song, the film title that emerges in the sky, the duels with the wands, the familiar spells, the moving photographs in the newspaper, some familiar magical creatures like Bowtruckle and Niffler, etc. Those things will make any Potterhead feel nostalgic because it's been a long time since the last time we saw them on screen. Despite the traces of Harry Potter in it, I am happy that Fantastic Beasts doesn't try too much to relate itself to Harry Potter. It has its own story with its own characters whom we meet for the first time. This film brings something new and fresh for the audience. I particularly enjoy the story. It runs very smoothly with magical and funny moments here and there and big, shocking reveals at the end.  In case you don't know, Jo Rowling herself penned the script of this movie. I think she should've written the scripts of the Harry Potter films too!

The naughty yet cute niffler

Just like the original Potter films, Fantastic Beasts is visually stunning. The set, the costumes and the CGI... all are a feast for the eyes. I enjoy the actors' performances too. One of my favorite Academy Award winners Eddie Redmayne delivers a great, enjoyable performance as Newt Scamander. He looks like he was born to play a role in the Harry Potter universe because he fits perfectly there and looks very natural as a magizoologist. Dan Fogler and Alison Sudol are so funny and likeable; I'm sure they will soon become fan favorites. And Ezra Miller! His character Credence is so dark here, darker than I expected, and I think his performance is very powerful. Oh there is one more actor that made my jaw drop at the end of the movie, but I think you should see the movie by yourself to find out who it is haha.

So I'm giving this movie a five-out-of-five rating hahaha. It might be a bit unfair because I'm a Potterhead, bit I really did enjoy this movie very much. Now I am happily waiting for the next films, just like the old times hahaha. I think the next films will have a stronger connection with Harry's story. I hope J.K. Rowling will find a way to connect the stories naturally and wonderfully.

Rating: 5/5

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