If you are a fan of Harry Potter, you would have no doubt already heard about Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, the brand-new movie that takes place in J.K. Rowling’s wizarding world. As an unabashed Potterhead, I went to see it almost as soon as it came out. In my (honestly probably biased) opinion, though, the film doesn’t quite measure up to the original series – or at least my nostalgia-tinted impression of them. Nonetheless, it’s a thoroughly enjoyable experience.
The movie follows the adventures of Newt Scamander, an English “magizoologist” who arrives in New York City in 1926 with a suitcase full of magical creatures. Unfortunately, he has arrived at a particularly troubled time for both New York and the world, with dark wizard Gellert Grindelwald terrorizing Europe and a sinister group of No-Majs (the American word for non-magical people), styled as The Second Salemers, threatening to expose and harm the wizarding community in the US. When several beasts from Newt’s suitcase escape to cause mayhem in the city, his quest to find and recapture them soon spirals into something much bigger and more sinister with consequences for the entire wizarding world.
While the quirky and adorable creatures were a joy to watch, the overall tone of the movie is much darker than one might expect, perhaps even more so than the more intense installments at the end of the Harry Potter series. It deals with a myriad of complex issues such as child abuse, as well as fear and discrimination against the “others.” The messages that the film send are vitally important, especially with the current political climate, but I wouldn’t suggest that you take your eight-year-old sibling to watch it.
The actors all gave good performances with the leading quartet consisting of Oscar-winning Eddie Redmayne as the eccentric and socially awkward Newt Scamander, Katherine Waterston as the level-headed MACUSA (Magical Congress of the United States of America) employee Tina Goldstein, Dan Fogler as the good-natured No-Maj Jacob Kowalski, and Alison Sudol as the flirtatious but kind Queenie Goldstein. I was especially impressed with Ezra Miller’s performance as Credence Barebone, who did a wonderful job getting me to sympathize with his character’s plight.
I highly recommend watching this movie, especially for fans of Harry Potter, who are doubtlessly excited to see how J.K. Rowling’s wizarding world extends to places outside of the U.K. You will definitely not be disappointed!