(WARNING: The mildest of spoilers ahead for J.K. Rowling's Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. Don't read if you want to go in blind.)
#FantasticBeastsAndWhereToFindThem is a very warm welcome back into #JKRowling's wizarding world. Not only is it both fun and charming, but it builds on this world effortlessly, asking the audience to take a huge leap further into its mythos and lore. The film feels radically different from the Potter movies that have preceded it, and although the cast is pretty great, there is nothing as fantastic as the beasts.
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Despite the fact they may not be the entire focus of the film, the first and second acts do a great job of establishing the beasts' qualities (and where to find them.) They range from cute, to scary, to downright badass. #HarryPotter gave us a small taste of what Newt Scamander has studied, but audiences all around the world have not been given the experience to meet these creatures face to face. Rowling's new venture gives them a chance to do exactly just that. It was hard to decide, but here is a ranking of the five most fantastic beats:
A Thunderbird is probably the closest we will get to ever seeing a live-action version of Zaptos on the big screen. Pokémon similarities aside, this is one creature that you should never mess with. Its powerful winds and thunderbolts are enough to strike fear in the hearts of Muggles — excuse me, No-Majes — everywhere. Though it may not be one of the most unique and creative looking of the beasts, it is one of the most important, especially when it comes to the third act. The beauty of its feathers are striking, and his moments with Newt are, in a sense, heartwarming. It is hard to see the franchise move forward without the Thunderbird appearing throughout the remaining prequel installments.
Here is what Rowling says concerning the creation of the creature:
I wanted to have one thing that was quintessentially American, and the Thunderbird is. I feel a special kinship for birds. I loved Dumbledore's phoenix, and I wanted a bird in this film with its own mythology. When the thunder bird flaps its multiple wings, it creates storms, so it's a powerful, mythical creature.
4. Swooping Evil
Remember in the introduction when I stated how many of Scamander's friendly sidekicks were badass, well this is the coolest of them all. Swooping Evil, who is no doubt as awesome as it sounds, is released as if its jumping of of its pokéball. (I apologize for all the #Pokemon references, but it's hard to watch a chunk of the film and not constantly think about #PokemonGo.) The creature, with its spiked wings, attacks its enemies with no mercy and without hesitation. It is both scary and fierce, and without a doubt ranks among the the most fantastic of these beasts. Though not as heroic as the No. 1 pick, it gets pretty close. Don't let his name fool you, for something literally called evil, it is quite the hero.
Oh boy do I love Jacob Kowalski as a character. He is sure to be the favorite among the new ensemble. Who knew a No-Maj would steal the show from all the magic and spectacle that has been stuffed into the film? The Erumpent and Jacob's scene in Central Park was one of the most comedic and fun sequences in the film. The rhino-like creature, who looks adorable in its own way, made for some of the movie's best moments. With an unique look and quirky behavior, the creature seems perfect for J.K. Rowling's wizarding wheelhouse.
There was not one moment in the film where a Niffler joke did not land. He's cute, lovable, destructive, and was definitely the most entertaining of the magical creatures. Niffler proved to be both a showstopper and scene-stealer who absolutely loves money. The looter, with its duck bill and fluffy fur, was one of the film's highlights and as soon as Scamander's story began, it was already causing trouble. Niffler became a character in its own right, and no matter how much mischief it attempted to manage, the audience always ate it up. Because of his reckless actions, Niffler set up the events of the film that put its main characters together. Though under silly circumstances, it is something we should be thankful for.
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Did you ever notice how well the Fantastic Beasts trailer mashups up with the Beauty and the Beast trailer?
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As the film progressed, one could argue that Niffler was pretty much a jerk and hassle for Newt, causing trouble left and right. Though he may have been the most entertaining, Bowtruckle was the one who was bound to take the audiences' hearts. It is impossible to not love the sweet and caring creature. Over the course of the film, it becomes clear (through subtlety and emotion) that the beast is the most sympathetic and heartwarming of all of the magical creatures. Its physicality, how it moves, and its shyness make for a wonderful character who Newt loves, and loves him back. The Bowtruckle may very well be the most heroic of the bunch, often coming in handy during the protagonist's times of need. It's clear that Newt and the Bowtruckle always stay side by side. Hopefully they always will.