When I first heard about HARRY POTTER AND THE SORCERERS STONE I wrote it off as a kid's movie. I eventually saw the film and thought it was okay, okay enough to watch the second movie as well. Cool kids films and nothing more. Long story short, it wasn't until going to see HARRY POTTER AND THE ORDER OF THE PHOENIX with some friends that I became a fan.
To say the film had me confused is a understatement; but, I loved the world these characters were living in. The next day I went to the bookstore and bought the first three books. I had just gotten out of a terrible relationship and craved alone time. All I did for a month was go to work, and come home to read Harry Potter. Not bragging, but I read Years 1 – 4 in a 2 two weeks time. I slowed down after Book 4.
By the time I got to HARRY POTTER AND THE HALF BLOOD PRINCE I was disappointed. The books were becoming way way better than the movies. Meaning the films really felt like they were becoming fan service to those who've read the books. One of these days I might watch them all again just to see if they hold up as just films? PHOENIX, HALF-BLOOD PRINCE, and DEATHLY HOLLOWS I & 2 probably do not.
When Warner Bros announced they were making more Harry Potter films I wasn't very excited. I quickly thought it was going to be about his kids going to Hogwarts. Boring! But when I heard it was a non Potter tale, that's when I became open to the idea. An original movie set in the Wizarding World written by J.K. Rowling, count me in!
The year is 1926 and Newt Scamander is making a brief stopover in New York City. Newt, a collector and document keeper of magical creatures runs into trouble when his suitcase gets swapped with an identical case. The mix-up causes Newt's creatures to run amok in the city causing trouble. Meanwhile ,a dark force is wreaking havoc as well. Coincidence? Or is dark magic afoot?
Porpentina, a lackey for the Magical Congress of the United States of America, notices Newt using magic in public. She tries to report it but gets lectured about her role in the MACUSA. Instead the Congress seem to busy trying to determine if dark wizard Grindelwald is on the prowl. And Percival the security chief is on the case.
Eventually Newt's task of finding all of his Beasts crosses paths with Percival and his investigation. And he must stop the dark force before it's too late.
For a original story FANTASTIC BEASTS AND WHERE TO FIND THEM manages to make a very entertaining film set in the Wizarding World universe. My favorite character was the aspiring baker Jacob. This character was the audience guide for the movie. The filmmakers did very well with how they handled the info drops to Jacob (and us) to move the plot forward. A lesser screenwriter and director would have put the required exposition in a voice over narration, or something boring along those lines.
The other thing that makes the new film great is that the reminders you are watching a Harry Potter spin-off are kept to a minimum. There was no winking to the audience that we're indeed watching a Potter movie. I noticed a few easter eggs but nothing too obvious.
In conclusion, I might end up liking this new Wizarding World franchise better than the Harry Potter films. It's way too early to tell for sure but I just have a feeling. The seeds have been planted for Dumbledore vs. Grindelwald! Even though fans know the outcome, it'll be a treat to see it play out on the big screen. Wizards during WWII, I cannot wait!
FANTASTIC BEASTS AND WHERE TO FIND THEM is highly recommended.