Most of us have about ten dollars to our name at any given time—we can’t just go around seeing movies willy-nilly. So why should you throw your hard-earned Hamiltons at Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them? We could have written a list where items 1 through 6 were just “EDDIE REDMAYNE’S GINGER COIFFURE IS ALL WE’VE GOT IN THIS RUINED WORLD,” but let’s try to take this seriously, okay? Here’s why you should head to the nearest movie theater stat:
1. It seamlessly merges two disparate worlds. Obviously, we’re all familiar with the Potterverse; we’ve grown up hearing words like “Muggle” and “Quidditch,” and we’d sooner reel off minor character names than elements on the periodic table. (“Mundungus” is just fun to say. Take that, beryllium.) Similarly, we’re all pretty well-acquainted with the underground speakeasies and fringe sequin dresses of New York City in the 1920s. It’s fun, it’s gaudy, and it’s enchanting. Aesthetically, it feels as if the wizarding world was always meant to harken back to the Jazz Age.
2. It’s sentimental, but not overly so. So maybe we’re all just nostalgia addicts crying Pavlovian tears to the sound of “Hedwig’s Theme,” but is that so wrong? The film gives several nods to longtime fans (every time they mentioned Hogwarts, I just about squealed), but they aren’t obnoxious about it. I can’t say for sure, because I’ve read the books so many times that at this point I’ve simply absorbed them into my personalty, but I’d be willing to bet the Easter eggs are subtle enough that fresh-faced fans will feel left out not one whit.
3. It features Jacob Kowalski. I think I love him. Jacob is the Muggle who gets mixed up in Newt’s hijinks, thus serving as our wide-eyed ingenue to wizarding society in America. Initially he’s racked with disbelief and shock by all the self-stirring teapots and glittering Occamies, but before long he’s just accepting everything wholesale. He’s also bumbling and extremely likable, which is generally how we tend to prefer our Muggle everymen.
4. It’s not an adaptation. Newt’s story is brand-new, which is a huge plus. I remember coming out of every Harry Potter movie plagued with thoughts of dialogue they had changed, scenes they had missed, and characters they had cut. With Fantastic Beasts? Not so. There’s no original source material, so Fantastic Beasts has more room to breathe.
5. The theme of “otherness” in a tumultuous sociopolitical climate is just as relevant now as it ever was. There’s a lot of fear in this movie. Muggles fear wizards and the power they wield. Wizards fear Muggles in turn, to the point that they’re not allowed to intermingle by law. Everyone fears the incorrigible fantastic beasts in question, from the treasure-hunting Nifflers to the rhino-like Erumpets. But throughout the film, we’re reminded again and again that people simply fear what they don’t understand.
6. It falls right back into the old Harry Potter lexicon. “No-Maj” notwithstanding, everyone’s saying things like “Auror” and “squib” like it’s completely normal, and I love it. I did find out I’ve been pronouncing “Legilimens” wrong this whole time. I don’t want to say how I’ve been pronouncing it, SO DON’T EVEN ASK.