I’m not a film critic, but…
The new era of JK Rowling’s wizarding world is due to hit our screens this coming Friday and Harry Potter fans around the world have been flocking to their nearest box office to book tickets for the long awaited movie.
They will not be disappointed.
Because this film is magical in every way.
Last Sunday, I had the extreme pleasure of attending a special screening of Fantastic Beasts in London’s Leicester Square. I may not have mentioned already, but I work in film. Specifically, I worked on this one. The screening was a ‘Thank You’ from the producers (ahem, that includes JK Rowling and the movie’s director, David Yates) for the long days and nights we, the crew, spent seeking perfection; for pouring ourselves so utterly into this project; for being the collective creators of a world that will continue to capture the imaginations of people around the world for as long as films are watched.
And every moment of it was perfect.
In case you’ve been living under a rock or (gasp) just ‘aren’t really into the Harry Potter thing’, Fantastic Beasts is a new franchise which exists in the same magical world. You may remember one of Harry’s text books was called Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. The fictional text book was written by the fictional author, Newt Scamander. The book did, however, see the light of day when it was later penned by JK Rowling to raise funds for comic relief. It chronicled magical creatures found throughout the world by none other than Mr. Scamander himself.
Now, Rowling (with the help of an incredible visual effects team) has brought these beasts to life. Set in 1926 New York, before Harry Potter was a glint in James Potter’s eye… In fact, long before James Potter himself was ever born, a young Newt Scamander has an altogether different magical adventure when some of the creatures he keeps in his magical suitcase escape and cause all sorts of mischief around the city. The problem for Newt and his new friends, however, is that saving his creatures turns out to be the least of their troubles.
Now, I’m not going to spoil the adventure, but I think I’ve made it clear that it’s one that shouldn’t be missed.
I’m also not going to wear the film critic hat – I am far to close to this one to be objective. I’ll leave it to you to draw the comparisons between MACUSA (Magical Congress of the USA) and any actual political bodies in present day America. I’ll leave it to you to comment on a United States governed by fear. I’ll also leave it to you to tip your hat to Rowling if you, like I, believe she has taken some brave steps in this new world where hope, compassion and standing up for what you believe in are the key to overcoming the most dangerous of all creatures – humans.
What I will say is that, as a storyteller, I’m excited to see where Newt’s journey takes us. I’m gripped by this world, this unlikely hero, the well defined characters and the absolute magic of the creatures.
This film is at times thrilling, at times terrifying and peppered with perfect humour (Dan Fogler gives an amazing performance and you will definitely want a pet Niffler). It’s storytelling at its best. Rowling has outdone herself. If I wasn’t already in total awe of her, I certainly am now. She is my Dumbledore. I imagine everyone who has written a middle grade novel post Harry Potter could say the same thing. She redefined children’s literature, she made it universal. Anyone who loves stories, regardless of age, has so much to thank her for.
Oh, and I should have mentioned that there’s a black, female president. In the US.