I really enjoyed Fantastic Beasts. I’m not even a Harry Potter fanatic. But I knew I wanted to see this movie, and I’m so glad I did. I didn’t know anything about it and barely anything about the Harry Potter universe yet I was in the movie theater on opening day. That rarely happens. I usually wait a few months until the movie goes to the cheapie theaters, or until it comes out on Redbox and rent it. But for whatever reason, I dragged my son with me that Friday morning. (He doesn’t have school on Friday’s. Don’t worry, we weren’t playing hooky) I couldn’t get enough. A few weeks later I took my other son too.
I had absolutely no expectations for this movie and really didn’t know what it was going to be about. I just knew it had something to do with the Potterverse and the World of Wizarding. The funny thing is, I wasn’t even allowed to watch or read Harry Potter when I was growing up. Magic was limited to strictly Disney faerie tales, and even that was slightly frowned upon. I grew up in the early 80’s/late 90’s when conservative Christian families were quite legalistic about any and all things magic related. Thank God, now-a-days I can let my kids have an imagination without getting too much flak from church culture.
Back to the movie. My very favorite characters were Jacob the No-Mag and Credence. If anyone came away from watching Fantastic Beasts DIS-liking Jacob, I would be shocked. He’s an extremely likable guy. Seriously, every one of his scenes was a pleasure to behold. Throughout the movie it’s very clear he’s supposed to be the likable guy. They never fail to deliver. You just want to pinch his cheeks, tuck him into your pocket and take him home. Delightful. He’s your Average Joe: hard worker, but wants to skip the daily grind, and aim for his passions instead. His dream is to be a baker. He likes donuts and pastries and –oh my word– I wanted to reach out and eat the pastries he made right off the screen. Yummy. Every scene with him you knew there was going to be roaring laughter involved. And I’m talking the audience, not on screen.
Now on to Credence. Credence is not in many scenes with Jacob. He’s pretty much the opposite of him. He’s a sort of antagonist, but not exactly. Ezra Miller did an excellent job on this intriguing character. He was dark, moody, and you wanted to hug him and show compassion for him, but trip him on the playground too. I don’t know how to explain this character other than massively complicated.
J.K. Rowling is brilliant. And I know everyone else knew that, but I’m just discovering it. WOW is she great at character building. And world building, but that goes without saying. I mean, Harry Potter, come on.
Credence lives with a woman who you assume is his mother, (later you find out, she’s simply taken him in as an act of goodwill) who is what you might call a religious fanatic. This was the one and only part that bothered me in the movie. I can’t stand it when movies make fun of Christianity or other religions. However, in this case they made it ‘appear’ to be religious fanaticism, but ended up not really being about religion at all. Just a woman on a mission to eliminate witches. The Second Salemers, they were called. (Salem witch trials, anyone?)
Credence and his two younger ‘sisters’ lived under the abusive thumb of this woman. They probably felt they owed her because she provided shelter and food for them. She had managed to psychologically damage all the kids to such extent that they no longer had a sense of self and had to suppress who they really were. This of course leads to some very explosive behavior once Credence decides he’s not going to put up with it anymore. Out of respect for those who haven’t seen it, I won’t say any spoilers beyond that. But I can tell you that there is a very interesting lesson to be learned here. Suppressing who you really are can be massively damaging. I’m not saying this to promote sinful lifestyles at all.
But if you look at the heart of it, you’ll find such a heart-wrenching story. A story of a boy, who just wants to be loved and accepted, and sadly fails to find either. Even the one he trusts the most ends up turning him away and discarding him like a “nobody”. We should always reach out and help those in abusive situations and strive to make those around us feel loved and accepted. You’ll never know who needs it badly and who will remember you for it.
That being said, I want to end on a positive note. It was such a well done movie. I cannot stop thinking about it. Characters, dialogue, world-building, everything. So perfect. The humor balanced out the darkness. The angst balanced out the frivolity. It was a pure pleasure to watch. This is one I’ll be buying for sure.