I recently saw Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them in the theater and…wow. Talk about taking a step directly back into the magical world of well, magic, that JK Rowling created with the Harry Potter Series. Of course, this film (the first of five projected films for Fantastic Beasts) is more of a precursor to the Potter series as evidenced both by subtle hints and references mentioned throughout the film and the fact that Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them takes place in the 1920s in New York City. Harry Potter is set in England during the 1980s and 90s. Because Fantastic Beasts does take place in New York, we also get a tiny peak into the American side of the wizarding world with smaller scattered throughout the film. Examples of this would be the playful rivalry that comes up when another wizarding school is mentioned or the fact that, in America, non-magical people are referred to as no-majs instead of muggles.
When I first heard talk that the book—a small book published as an accompaniment to the Harry Potter series and one that actually does show up within the series itself as a textbook— was going to be made into a movie, I was excited but curious as to how it would be turned into a film. I’ll admit it’s been several years since I’ve read Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, but from what I recall it is more of a dictionary or encyclopedia of magical animals with comments written in the margin than an actual book with a plotline. This is why I was curious to see how Ms. Rowling would take that and create an entire film script around it. I believe the way that she went about it was both clever and logical as the film is centered around Newt Scamander and a moment in his life that led up to the creation of his book, Fantastical Beasts and Where to Find Them.
Despite featuring none of the familiar faces or characters that we’ve come to know from Harry Potter, the film still felt familiar. This feeling of familiarity was probably helped by the fact that a number of the beasts that make an appearance in the film are ones that also showed up in the Harry Potter series in some way. I’ve always enjoyed Eddie Redmayne (who plays Newt Scamander) and this was no exception. I loved his performance. The cast also included several other well-known names such as Colin Farrell (Mr. Graves), Jon Voight (Mr. Shaw Sr., head of the local newspaper), Ezra Miller (Credence Barebone), and Katherine Waterston (Tina, and also the daughter of famed Law and Order actor Sam Waterston) among others.
I know that Thanksgiving is coming up in a few days here in the United States and that many people will be gathering with friends and family to celebrate. If anyone needs a break from eating and football (or even being around all the people), I definitely recommend going to see Fantastic Beasts over the long weekend. The visual special effects were on point and overall I thought the production of the film was superb. I’m sure any Potter fans will already want to see this just because it’s from the same world of wizards and magic that we love so much but to anyone else who might be on the fence about the film, go see it. 10/10 would recommend.
If you’ve already seen the film, what did you think?
Happy Thanksgiving everyone!