Harry Potter and the Fantastic Beasts….. Excuse me, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, opens up with a familiar tune and then an explosion! Many of its audience returning to learn more about the Harry Potter world we’ve all loved and have adored for more than a decade now, some members might even be new to the magical world, but regardless of your familiarity with the Harry Potter world, you won’t be disappointed.
Fantastic Beasts delivers on fun, magic, and the same childish wonderment that the very first film, The Sorcerer’s Stone, instilled in both youths and adults. What is extra-wonderful about the film and this new extension of the beautiful universe that JK Rowling delivered to us nearly 20 years ago, is that it takes place long before Harry and his Parents. It begins in 1926 with a demolished building in New York, New York. Yes, that’s right, if you didn’t know, this first installment in the extended universe (which rumors claim their will be 5 story-lines through 19 years) takes place in America. And it is a breath of fresh air.
It is an easy claim, that there are Harry Potter lovers throughout the world, and to get a glimpse (glimpse being a full-length feature film!) of the magical universe in different parts of the world is well-deserved.
After the explosion we move into the classic moving headlines/picture format of what is going on in the American Wizarding World. Preparing us for the new information about the different culture that we (the audience) have been salivating for. After the opening credits, we land on Newt Scamander, a name many will recognize as the author of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, a book that every wizarding family should own. A worthy endorsement by Albus Dumbledore.
Newt (Eddie Redmayne) is our first lead protagonist that came from House Hufflepuff (badger house), he is a kind soul who just wants to save all magical creatures out there, and “politely educate” his fellow magic folk, as he claims while explaining his reason for traveling state-side. Yes, that means that these magnificent, magical creatures are not just confined to the UK, and this also means that many (absolutely breath-taking) creatures are indigenous to certain areas, much like our no-maj animals. Oh what is “no-maj” you ask? It’s is American slang for non-magic folk. So its our term for muggles!
Eventually a few of Newt’s beautiful, scary, and chalk full of personality, beasts escape his magical suitcase. An American witch, Tina Goldstein (Katherine Waterston), tries to detain Newt for not registering his wand when he came through what I guess is customs in the ’20s? Anyways, they become these kind-of awkward partners in crime, but only after the poor no-maj, Jacob Kowalski (Dan Fogler), has a nasty bump in with one of Newt’s many creatures. Newt and Tina only eventually become allies because of Jacob’s innocent, yet beautiful mind set that Tina’s Legilimency (mind-reading) sister Queenie (Alison Sudol) feels towards Jacob. Jacob takes the role of audience in this film, learning about all of this new wonder and expressing it, he eventually becomes the glue between the sisters and rule-breaking Newt.
Eventually, the president of MACUSA (the Magical Congress of the United States of America), Seraphina Picquery is lead to believe that the chaos happening in New York is Newt’s fault (even though they were having problems before HE EVEN GOT THERE). Trying to keep this review spoiler free, we will leave the remainder of the plot for you to find out yourself. But know that there is more than just one plot line, and that there are many twists and turns along this amazing ride.
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them provides another sweet, and succulent extension of JK Rowling’s incredible mind and Wizarding World. The story was written by Rowling herself, and the magic leaps of the screen and stays with you hours after you leave the theater. (Let’s be honest, probably days.) Currently, it can remain as a stand-alone film, but there are many names that we pot-heads will recognize through the film, and for the well-trained ear, you may even recognize some of the musical scores. Personally, this pot-head can’t wait for the next installment of the Wizarding World, and learn more about some twists that were delivered throughout the film.
This holiday, see what is truly, the best film of the year. Fantastic Beasts deserves your $10 and 2 hours of your time. Even if you aren’t a grade-A Potter fanatic.
PS on a fun fact, Actor Eddie Remayne was almost the young Voldemort in Chamber of Secrets! Let’s just say he makes a much better Newt.