Today marks the release of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, both in theaters and in bookstores, in the form of a screenplay penned by J.K. Rowling herself. This latest chapter in wizarding world history kicks off decades before Harry Potter was born, in a Prohibition-era New York of speakeasies, well-dressed witches and wizards, and a terrifying rash of anti-magic sentiment. It follows magizoologist Newt Scamander, who, despite being kicked out of Hogwarts, will eventually write one of the school’s foundational textbooks: Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, of course, which loosely inspired the film. After Scamander’s magically expanding case full of fantastical creatures is switched with a No-maj’s case full of pastries (No-maj is American for “Muggle”), and some of the animals escape, the two find themselves descending into an urban underbelly of enchanted mayhem and danger. Here are 9 reasons you must get yourself to a theater to see it posthaste.
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1. The Scenery
If you’ve missed the magical sets and vistas the Harry Potter films are famous for, you won’t be disappointed by the visuals in Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them. Set seventy years before the Harry Potter series, the film beautifully portrays 1920s New York City, complete with horses and buggies, passenger ships, and a stunning Wizard Congress. Not to mention the costumes, and some epic fight scenes. Remember the Battle of Hogwarts in the second Deathly Hallows film? Fantastic Beasts has visuals to rival even that.
2. Newt Scamander
If you’ve seen any of the Fantastic Beasts trailers, you probably already have a soft spot for Newt. Kindhearted, passionate, and a little offbeat, Rowling’s newest protagonist has a great personality and an even greater heart. He’s more of a controversial hero in the eyes of the wizarding world than Harry will one day be, and I can’t wait to see how the character and his legend unfold throughout the series. Expect to leave the theatre a little in love with Newt.
3. The Niffler
I don’t want to spoil this one for you, so all I’ll say is: the Niffler’s comedic timing is pure gold.
4. It’s Dark
Fantastic Beasts is darker than you think it will be.
5. It’s Funny
Fantastic Beasts is funnier than you think it will be.
I knew there was going to be a prominent Muggle, aka No-maj, in the film, but I wasn’t sure what to expect from him. After all, we’ve already spent movie after movie dealing with the dreadful Dursleys, Harry’s only living (Muggle) family. But Jacob is no Duddykins: he will no doubt be one of your favorite characters by the end of the movie.
7. The Suitcase
If you thought Hermione’s beaded bag in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows was enormous, get ready to think bigger. Newt not only has a workshop inside his suitcase, he has got enough storage space to house an entire creature sanctuary. From bowtruckles to grindylows and everything in between, Newt brings a lot more fantastic beasts with him to New York than you can fit in your average carryon.
8. The Beasts
Speaking of, if you’re wondering whether the beasts in this movie will live up to our outsized expectations, you won’t be disappointed. The CGI is great, but the creatures aren’t just in the film to look pretty. They’ve all got strong personalities, and while the plot is bigger than just them, they are given plenty of very satisfying screen time.
9. What’s Next
Fantastic Beasts is just the start to a much larger story. Perhaps you’ve already guessed who the villain in this series is going to be. If so, you might already be flipping out. If not, get ready to flip out. The reveal of the antagonist hints that a certain prominent Harry Potter character could very well make an appearance in the coming films. And my opinion on that? Yasssssss.