First, before I continue further, this will have a spoiler free version and a spoiler version. The free version will be first, and you’ll be able to stop when that’s done or continue. With that being said, let’s begin!
This movie is an excellent stepping stone for those who have finished Deathly Hallows or are new to Harry Potter alike. Granted, a newcomer will be thrown into a few concepts without much warning, but it’s easily understandable. To be fair, many of the new creatures are a new experience for the existing fans as well. The characters and themes assume that you’re old enough to handle it, however. There is talk of abuse, repression, and misunderstood motives through both “good” and “bad” characters alike. If you have kids, it may be best to start them off with Sorceror’s Stone/Philosopher’s Stone.
The characters are all enjoyable, from Newt to Jacob to the villain himself. They all stand out and exemplify a wide spectrum of personalities. The romances don’t feel forced either.
After the fiasco that was the Cursed Child screenplay, the fans seemed pleased to see the new material succeeding. Personally, I like to compare it to what The Force Awakens did for Star Wars fans after the prequels upset many of them. This could demonstrate that the series could expand further as individuals aside from Rowling herself take part in the creation of the lore.
The art style (CGI included) and musical scores set the tone well for the series. Despite the numerous trailers which take place in the largely urban jungle of New York, there’s plenty of color to balance out the dullness. The music fits the Harry Potter series.. sometimes to a fault, as it can make a serious scene a bit too cheery at times. In the end, however, this didn’t hamper my enjoyment of the movie as a whole.
I would have gladly watched an extra hour of the movie if they would have fleshed out the other concepts they mentioned in the movie, such as reminding us about Ilvermorny, seemingly just for the sake of letting the audience know about it. Granted, the hardcore fans are aware of it via Pottermore and it’s a nice treat for the movie-centric crowd to be aware that there is an American counterpart to Hogwarts, it could use a bit of relevance to the plot. Then again, this could be another welcome deviation from the original series, to show that not every major issue involves the wizarding schools.
I can’t help but wonder if a Obscurus is a counterpart to a Patronus. One could be considered to repressed negative feelings and magic, leading to its creation, while the latter could be a release of happiness to create a source of protection. I felt sorry for Creedence and what he had to endure. His last scenes almost justify Grindelwald’s motives for ending the Statute of Secrecy.
It seems to me that the movie series may be an attempt to flesh out the Harry Potter lore on a worldwide scale, as they begin during the Melting Pot era of America and the next movie is planned to feature Paris. Of course, it’s possible, if not probable that Dumbledore himself will be involved in future plot. It would make sense, given his relationship to Grindelwald.
Newt’s abilities remind me of his suitcase… he looks inept, and is capable of hiding what he’s truly capable of, but his real abilities are astounding in their own way, separate from the professional Aurors but astounding and unique nonetheless. Given that the writing is done by Rowling, this could be another lesson into appreciating others; that sometimes the most impressive people are the ones who can easily get lost in a crowd.
Despite being the first in a series of five movies, this movie holds well on its own without being made simply to set up for future installments. Given the quality of the first, I think this will give the fans something to look forward to over the next 5-10 years.