*a non-spoiler review

When Harry Potter and the Cursed Child was released last August, the world went Potter-mania, something not seen since the release of Deathly Hallows back in 2007. The novel’s release was like welcoming an old and dearly missed friend. Then Fantastic Beasts comes out and suddenly all of my childhood memories come streaming back. But this time, there’s a new story to tell and a whole new world to explore, a distincly familiar world but with new twists and stories. 

To be honest, I had my doubts and my questions about this film. I was worried that it would ruin the memory I have of the Wizarding World, the enchantments and the magic of Harry Potter. I was worried that J.K. Rowling or Warner Brothers was using the resurgent popularity of the series to milk the franchise for more (which I still believe) stories.

My doubts were slowly being realized and unfolding before my eyes, the cold opening beckoned excitement and thrill, but was quickly replaced by a dull introduction of Newt, his beasts, and the American wizarding world. This was all old stuff, any child who has picked up a Harry Potter book in the past would know all of this. It was only after the film had finally picked up steam, when questions were being answered, and Scamander’s beasts slowly faded into the background, only serving as minor plot devices, that Fantastic Beasts begins to show its true colors.

In the end, Fantastic Beasts wasn’t about the beasts written by Scamander, but it was a metaphor for things to come in this new spin-off series. Without the beasts, this new world that Rowling has created begins looking familiar and astounding. In the Harry Potter series, we only get glimpses of the wizarding world, in the film, that world is now open and audiences get to experience what its like to live in that world. House elves, goblins, magical artifacts are on full display, and nary a sight of a horcrux or a Hogwarts house. It is the wizarding world on a larger, grander, and more impressive scale. Seeing that world, the magic at work, had me wow-ing throughout most of the film. It was just impressive.

With the promise of more films to come, plus a really great (but predictable) twist, and a whole new world to explore, the Harry Potter series has truly grown up. It has left the confines and the protected halls of Hogwarts and moved into uncharted but still familiar territory. For fans who’ve stuck with the series from its inception, this movie and its possibilities make J.K. Rowling’s world all the more exciting.

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