Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them Review

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Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them Review

Kasia Krzyzanska

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After over five years of waiting, a new addition to J. K Rowling’s wizarding world came out on November 18th: Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. Despite the fact that this does concern the wizarding world introduced in the Harry PotterTM series, this is neither a sequel or a prequel to the original movies. It is more of a spin-off, but fear not; I can assure you it is nonetheless excellent. However, if you are looking for a direct addition to Harry PotterTM, I’m afraid this isn’t it. Due to its setting, none of the characters who appeared in either in the books or the movies are in this film, though characters who were mentioned without taking place in the action do play major roles. This includes the dark wizard Grindelwald as well as Newt Scamander, who wrote the titular book Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. This book was part of the materials students at Hogwarts would use in their studies, and was also a short book published in real life in 2001 by, of course, J. K. Rowling. This book is part of the “Hogwarts Library” mini series that supports the charity Comic Relief. Many of the creatures mentioned within this book appear in the movie, though the book is probably due for an update; many creatures within the movie are likewise not found in the book.

Taking place in the 1920s in the United States, Fantastic Beasts offers a fresh perspective with its new setting, letting fans experience more of the history that led up to their beloved Harry PotterTM series as well as how the world of magic looks like outside of Great Britain (presumably, there’s more to the world than the British Isles). We even get to see the American form of the Ministry of Magic, known as the Magical Congress of the United States of America, or MACUSA. Personally, I always thinks it’s cool to see how official buildings look like in the wizarding world, they’re always much more interesting than the ones in real life. Furthermore, historical events such as the Great War (World War I) and the Prohibition are reflected, giving the movie a satisfying sense of accuracy, making it almost seem plausible in reality (if only!).

The characters introduced also gave the movie a refreshing feel, as even most of them were not even mentioned in the Harry PotterTM series, there are enough familiar traits about them to ease the transition into this new world. For example, one character, Queenie, is a Legilimens, meaning she can read minds. Legilimency was indeed mentioned within the Harry Potter series, though this is the first time it is not associated with a certain evil Dark Wizard I could mention trying to break into one’s mind. As aforementioned, Newt Scamander, played by Eddie Redmayne, is the protagonist in this film, and although there hasn’t been much development on him yet, he is a really great character; however, I personally was most excited about the appearance of Grindelwald in the film. I wasn’t really expecting him to be in it, and of course, I was really excited to know more about his story. Even though the bare bones of his rise and fall are given within the last Harry Potter book (as well as the last two movies), it always feels like there should be more to the story. All we find out about him mainly comes from his experiences with Albus Dumbledore, and considering that he is basically the darkest wizard before Voldemort, that’s not nearly enough. The movie doesn’t actually tells us all that much about him, but the fact that he’s been introduced as a major antagonist gives many hopes to the next four- yes, FOUR- movies in this series. 

Then again, maybe you’re new to this whole Harry PotterTM thing. Maybe you couldn’t tell Dumbledore from Gandalf, and maybe -gasp- you don’t even know what house you belong to at Hogwarts. Well, fear not! As this truly isn’t a sequel or a prequel, you can delve right into it without knowing anything about magic. That’s partly what’s so great about it. Sure, Harry Potter’sTM great and all, but the whole world, wizarding or otherwise, doesn’t revolve around him. It’s nice to finally get a new perspective of this vast and fabulous world of magic created by J. K. Rowling, and considering the fact that we have FOUR MORE MOVIES to look forward to, there’s clearly more to come! Just try not to think about the dates too much. The next one comes out in November, 2018. Sigh.

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