‘Fantastic Beasts’ Review: A Truly Magical Adventure, Just When We Need It Most

Wizards & witches. Muggles and No-Majs alike. The wait is nearly over for 'Fantastic Beasts & Where To Find Them' and I'm here to tell you, fellow Potterheads, that this new wizarding adventure is deeply satisfying.  Turns out, happiness really can be found, even in the darkest of times -- and the light is coming straight from J.K Rowling herself.

Five years ago, the book was closed on Harry Potter, as the final chapter of his saga played out on-screen. Thankfully, we didn’t have to wait 19 years for J.K. Rowling to continue her wizarding adventures. True, her new film takes fans back decades before Harry and his friends ever laid eyes on Hogwarts, but any cynicism fans have going in to this movie will instantly dissipate upon meeting our new hero, Newt Scamander and his band of quirky, charismatic, and dynamic friends.

If you’re a true Harry Potter fan, this part of the story I assume you already know: Newt Scamander, after having been kicked out of Hogwarts and traveling the world, finds himself in New York City in 1926. He carries with him a magical case full of magical creatures, which as it turns out, are pretty illegal to have in the USA. Having been in the Big Apple less than a day, a good chunk of his ‘beasts’ escape and Newt sets off on a wild adventure to collect them before they, or anyone else, get hurt.

So, that’s what you know; now, here’s what you don’t. While Fantastic Beasts lives up to the Harry Potter tradition of delighting audiences with a fantasy adventure full of magic, comedy and romance, there’s a deeper, darker sub-story involving a certain dark wizard played by a certain drunk pirate. Oh yes, the Grindelwald story arc plays a huge part in this film, while laying the ground work for sequels that dive deeper into the histories of historic wizards than has ever been done before. But more than this, between the fun & fantasy and the dark & mysterious, there is an underlying theme of the joys and consequences of having — and not having — an open mind and heart to all people, despite their differences. In truth, more than any Harry Potter film before it, Fantastic Beasts speaks to the generation who grew up with J.K’s stories, and how their lives are changing today.

‘Fantastic Beasts’ World Premiere: See Pics From NYC

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As for the cast, fans will instantly fall in love with Eddie Redmayne‘s quirky, charming and lovable Newt. He’s a poster prefect Hufflepuff: loyal, fair, with a big heart and hair you’ll just be dying to run your fingers through. Upon arriving in New York, he’s apprehended by Tina Goldstein, played by Katherine Waterston, an ex-Auror desperate to regain her title and crack the case on a dark force brewing in the city. Her vulnerability is relatable, while her bravery is commendable, and fans will instantly see the attraction she and Newt will eventually have for each other. (Yes, there is a slow burn on this one. Ya feel me, Ron & Hermione fans?) Her sister, Queenie (Alison Sudol), is sexy, vibrant and, best of all, a mindreader. Among all the Harry Potter easter eggs to be enjoyed in this film, my favorite involves this Legilimens and a certain magizoologist when she starts to fish around his head for information about Hogwarts. And then, there’s Jacob — the poor Muggle, er, I mean, No-Maj who befriends these misfit wizards in their quest to retrieve all of Newt’s creature friends. Dan Fogler‘s comedic timing and giant heart definitely will give you some Weasley-vibes, and you’ll be thankful for that.

In short, Fantastic Beasts lives up to its name — simply fantastic! It’s every bit as magical as the original Harry Potter films, with equal amounts of heart and adventure. A new era of the Wizarding World has begun — and it’s gonna be quite the ride!

HollywoodLifers, will you be checking out the film on Nov. 18th?

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