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Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

I was expecting to like but not necessarily adore this movie, and it blew my expectations 94 stories out of the water. SIXTEEN OUT OF FIVE STARS.


I've always said I loved seeing each new HP film in the theater, and I probably did, but I never watched any of the last 3 -- maybe 4 -- a second time. And even before I went, each film was still feeling, a little bit, like an obligation. And that's because of the way the series is -- it gets darker and darker so gradually you almost don't notice until it's over, and then you're like, "yikes."

But this felt like seeing the first Harry Potter film for the very first time. Everything is wondrous and fresh and new and truly magical, free of the black cloud that's been growing darker overhead. This one clearly has one, to be sure (kind of literally!), but there was so much focus on just showing off the creatures that it was easy to put it aside. And the creatures are amazing. "Fantastic" accurately yet insufficiently describes them. They are cute and weird and terrifying and awe-inspiring and breathtaking in every way imaginable. The technical skill is high in this film and I expect to see Oscar noms.

(My favorite BY FAR was the Niffler a.k.a. palm-sized black platypus. GIVE ME A NIFFLER. Give me a 30-minute short film about nothing but the adventures of a money-seeking Niffler on a rampage, oh my god, that is the cutest creature I have ever seen in my life, and watching it swell as it stuffed fistfuls of coins and jewelry in its lil' belly pouch? I never wanted his screen time to end.)

And on top of that, it was a period piece! A period piece set in glamorous 1920s New York and beautiful Harry Potter magic??

I do have to ask if Colin Farrell is paying some kind of homage to a 1920s historical figure that he has chosen to wear his hair in that gross way for a second such movie. Not that there was any need for his character to be attractive because skeezus, his pervy pedo advances on Credence were the grossest thing I have ever had to witness in a children's film, and I'm including scatological humor in this. But that + how hideous Johnny Depp as Grindelwald was + the tendency for characters to do unnecessarily long staring sessions were absolutely the only things I didn't like.

Oh, and I wanted to try to embrace the hints of UST, but I need more info on Lida first, because right now I am hoisting my spear at the ready for anything that even remotely has a hint of some idiot being torn between two people. Your love story is worthless to me unless it's two people who have blinders for each other. That is the only kind I wanna hear about ever. (You should see me at war with the YA section in the library these days. I'm getting violent with the books I slam back into place after they fail to meet this prerequisite.)

Let's see...the acting! I have borne a grudge against Eddie Frogvoice ever since he stomped all over my fave dude Marius in Les Mis with his terrible singing voice and then continued to be rewarded with lead roles, but somehow he managed to hide himself completely behind Newt Scamander's very kind and pleasant visage, reminding me of a docile spaniel.

The lead actress was really great, too -- I kept trying to figure out why I knew her, thought maybe she was Brie Larson, but it turns out I don't know her from acting so much as I know her from previews for several recent movies she's starred in. She's very pretty. And Queenie is, apparently, A Fine Frenzy! I mean, figuratively as a character, but also as in "played by the singer who calls herself that."

Lastly, as the credits rolled, I may or may not have felt a little like weeping with pride at the familiar names for "written" and "directed by." The old gang's back together! More importantly, this is an infinitely better application of JoRo's writing talents/credits than that cursed play nightmare.

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