(Another killer guest contribution from Mr. Teacher)
During the summer of 2007, I faced one of the first real dilemmas of my adult life. Do I spend my Saturday evening A) attending a bachelor party or B) reading Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows before spoilers reach me? For months, I had been waiting with baited breath to find out if Harry would die. I needed to know what his fate would be, and I had to know before the rest of the world. There was no way some loudmouthed kids were going to ruin the story for me by yelling, “Dumbledore Dies!” before I read the book. No way… no how… not like this had happened before I finished the previous book or anything…
The solution I came up with was to attend the bachelor party during the day and leave before the nighttime activities began. I know what you are thinking. Yes, I left a bachelor party to go home and read HP7. It took me less than 24 hours to read the entire book, after which I called a friend and admitted to crying near the end. There, I admitted it. I left a bachelor party to read HP7 and have a good cry. I still maintain it was the right decision, but there are many people in my family that will never let me forget the decision.
This is the level of my fandom for Harry Potter. I started reading the books when they came out in 2001, and I was there for the release of every subsequent book, and yes, every movie. I’m not going to lie, in my book, a lot of the movies sucked. They just weren’t that good. Bad directing and bad storytelling. I mean, the source material is amazing but some of the movies are somehow unwatchable. The movies improved toward the end of the series, but then unthinkable happened and the last two movies were split up like they were the final season of Breaking Bad or something. Cheap trick.
A few months ago, when I heard they were making a new HP installment, I laughed to myself. At least George Lucas waited like 20 years. JK Rowling couldn’t make it five years without dipping back into the well. But, because I’m a huge fan, I decided to see “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” with an open mind. Here are five things I learned from the movie.
- Newt Scamander needs a new briefcase stat.
Eddie Redmayne plays the lead, Newt Scamander. Redmayne channels his Oscar acceptance speech level of awkwardness to create this bland character. Listen, I get it, Scamander is a Hufflepuff and they are nerdy. We are all Hufflepuffs and JK Rowling loves them. However, everyone secretly knows that if they were selected to be in Hufflepuff, a little bit of you would die inside.
As some may recall, Scamander is the name of the author of “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them,” a textbook often consulted by Potter and his gang. This movie follows Scamander’s adventures in America where early action results from his inability to keep his magic suitcase locked. If the nerd had simply invested in a new suitcase with latches that don’t pop open, this movie wouldn’t have a first act.
- American Wizards are a super uptight bunch, because, you know, America.
This movie is set in 1920s New York City, where the wizarding world is feeling pressure from a few magical attacks that have threatened to shed light on their secret existence. The American “Ministry of Magic” is obsessed with doing everything by the books: registering visiting wizards, licensing wands, and keeping wizarding life secret. Furthermore, they are feeling constant pressure from a radical anti-magic group who pass out leaflets to the general public condemning witches and wizards. At first, I was kind of insulted that Rowling portrayed Americans as so uptight, and then I sort of accepted it. America!
- People are incredibly rude at the movies.
Okay, not related to the movie. But there was a legitimate baby at the 7:00 PM showing I attended. It was kind of cute the first time the baby cooed, but then it kept talking (“mama,” “dada,” etc.), and it took all the restraint that exists in my body not to ask them to quiet their baby down. Also, there was a random couple in the middle of the theater laughing at inappropriate times in the movie. They were checking Snapchat or something. These people needed a serious lesson in movie etiquette.
- People really like cute, magical creatures.
Some of the best parts of this movie consist of the magical creatures that were cooked up for this flick. In fact, much of the comic relief in the first act consists of one particular creature lurking around Manhattan stealing shiny objects like coins and jewelry. It was enjoyable, I laughed, but I also couldn’t help but wonder, “is this all it takes?”
- Everyone thinks their magic school is the best.
As we learn more about the main characters, we find out that Katherine Waterston’s, “Tina,” and Alison Sudol’s, “Queenie” both attended the “Ilvermony School of Witchcraft and Wizardry,” which they maintain is like the best school of witchcraft and wizardry. Of course, Scamander maintains that Hogwarts is the best school for witches and wizards. Hehe… see what they did there? Throughout the movie there are further hints of the lore and legend that obsess Potter fans. Dumbledore is alive in the 1920s and battling with his foe Grindelwald. Scamander used to date, was mildly obsessed with, and now has moved on from, a Lestrange family member. There are certainly going to be sequels to follow this first movie. I have to admit, I am looking forward to them.
In the end, would I leave a bachelor party to see this movie? Probably not, but it was a pretty good beginning to a new storyline in the Harry Potter universe.