Jaap Buitendijk/Warner Bros.
Jaap Buitendijk/Warner Bros.
Lumos. Basilisk. Goblet of Fire. Hogsmeade. Hermione. Gryffindor. Harry Potter.
These are all phrases that you will not hear in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. That's because, as inspired as it might be, it is not a movie about Harry Potter. One might enter the theater with the highest of hopes that the marketing campaign and the teaser trailers were all just a clever ruse, and that die-hard fans would be treated to movie that is actually just the eighth installment of the tale of our friends Harry, Ron and Hermione.
Well it's not.
But that doesn't mean there isn't a whole lot to feel giddy and nostalgic over. The flick, different as it is from The Sorcerer's Stone and its ilk, still stems from the very same brain. J.K. Rowlingis all over this bad boy, and she brought along some of her co-conspirators from the original movies to help tell the tale of Newt Scamander and all of his otherwordly animal friends. That includes director David Yates (he did the final four HP movies), as well as a slew of producers, editors and even the casting director. The result is a flick that feels like Harry Potter, even if the story is entirely new.
As a refresher, let's spend a few moments on that story. Mr. Scamander (played adorably by Eddie Redmayne) is a magizoologist (and yes, that's exactly what it sounds like) newly arrived to 1920s New York City, where tensions are brewing between the No-Maj and the wizarding world subtly (for the No-Maj) and not-so-subtly (for the wizards). He's on a world tour that involves rescuing and caring for misunderstood magical creatures.
He's come to the Big Apple during a time in which a mysterious evil spirit is unleashing itself on the city, something that has the Magical Congress in, well, a bit of a tizzy. We'll leave the rest of the plot up in the air (yes, some things are still sacred), but we can provide assurance to those wondering if there are thinly-veiled references to that world 80 years in the future and across the pond. Don't worry, guys, there are totally inside jokes.
Now yes, we're going to talk about those inside jokes and how they made us feel (there's nothing like sitting in a movie theater in 2016 and hearing the name "Albus Dumbledore" muttered). And yes, it's going to reveal a little bit about the movie. We're not here to tell you how it ends or what Johnny Depp's cameo is or anything that will ruin how you watch the movie. This is just a safe space for Harry Potter fans to geek out.
1. The Opening Credits. Raise your hand if you get chills every time you hear those whimsical notes that accompanied every Harry Potter movie. We thought so. The second the curtain pulled back (okay, so movie theaters don't have curtains anymore, but you know what we mean) and the title credits rolled—with that oh-so-familiar metallic font, natch—we were instantly taken back to our very first viewing of The Sorcerer's Stone.
2. The Newspapers. We all know J.K. Rowling loves a good scroll past a magical newspaper to update the audience on happenings in the wizarding world, and she isn't giving that up for nothing—not even an entirely new franchise. There's plenty of international editions of The Daily Prophet to be enjoyed in Fantastic Beasts; even some in Bulgarian. (At least we think that was Bulgarian). And yes, for those asking: They had animated newspaper photos even back in the 1920s.
Courtesy Warner Brothers
3. Quidditch Jokes. "Are you a seeker, Mr. Scamander?" "I'm more of a chaser, actually." Man, gotta love a good double entendre.
4. House Elves. We'll never get over the loss of our beloved Dobby; we still tear up every time we see a loose sock. But watching his ancestors keep things running at the Magical Congress in lower Manhattan certainly eases the blow.
5. A Good Old-Fashioned Dumbledore Name Drop. Okay, so we do know that our favorite Albus (and yes, we know more Albus' than just of the Dumbledore variety!) is going to be in future Fantastic Beasts installments thanks to the magic of the Internet, but it was still a thrill to hear characters talking about him, even if we didn't get a visual yet. To be slightly spoiler-y, the greatest Professor stood up for our man Newt when he was in a bind, and if that isn't the most heartwarming and Dumbledore-y thing ever.
Courtesy Warner Brothers
6. A Good Old-Fashioned Lestrange Family Name Drop. Okay, so this one we can't really get into without ruining some of the plot. And we want the reveal to be just as special for all of you. But we will say that some of Bellatrix's ancestors are seemingly going to factor heavily into the future story line, and we're total geeks for anything that has immediate connections to the current Harry Potter world. Even if it is the family of the woman who killed Sirius Black. (We still haven't forgiven you, girl.)
7. A Good Old-Fashioned Hogwarts Name Drop. So many old-fashioned name drops, you guys! Our beloved Hogwarts isn't going to be much of a central player in this franchise, since so much of it is based in the American wizarding world where Muggles are called No-Maj and you need a permit to carry a wand. But there is a cheeky little argument over the merits of everyone's favorite magical institution and its U.S. counterpart, Ilvermorny.
8. Magic, period. Man it feels good to be watching spells and charms and wizarding fights again. Just hearing the word Stupefy is soothing. Thank you, J.K.