After many years of waiting, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, starring Eddie Redmayne, Katherine Waterston, Colin Farrell, and Ezra Miller, finally premiered on November 18. The film is set in New York city, circa 1926. This thrilling action, adventure movie had high expectations to meet the quality of the Harry Potter series. As a prequel to the Harry Potter series, set seventy years in the past, Fantastic Beasts details the story of Newt Scamander and his stay in New York.
The movie opens with Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne) at Ellis Island, trying to enter the country, and talking to immigration officers. This is where we first realize that the brief case he is carrying is not a regular case. In fact, the case is filled with magical beasts that are banned in America. A few scenes later, we realize that Newt has accidentally switched his case with a “no maj’s,” a non-magical person, and has released several of the beasts in the case. One of these beasts is known as a “niffler.” A niffler is a creature that is attracted to shiny things such as money, jewelry, and watches. Newt and the no-maj, Jacob Kawalski (Dan Fogler), try to catch the rather cute platypus-looking creature. After they painfully retrieve the bugger, they finally are able to put him back in the case. Next, we were taken to a scene with two people in an alley talking about a child under ten that Credence (Ezra Miller), one of the people in the alley, must find. Credence is a child growing up as a no-maj, in a home with several other children that go out every day to hand out flyers preaching that there needs to be a “modern” Salem witch trial. We are taken to what is the American magical government building. A conversation taking place in the building brings us to the realization that Percival Graves(Colin Farrell) was the man talking to Credence in the alley. The scene fades leaving us wondering about what they were doing there. Eventually, Newt and Jacob collect all of the beasts that had gotten out. Meanwhile, Porpentina “Tina” Goldstein (Katherine Waterston) caught them and took them straight to MACUSA(Magical Congress of the United States of America), where they were thrown into jail. Graves, head detective, then interrogates Newt and Tina about the beasts, where Newt calls out a serious foreshadow. After being sentenced to death, Newt and Tina escape with help from Jacob. However, the ending plot twist could not have been predicted.
The movie itself takes us through 3 different storylines simultaneously: Newt’s adventure, Credence’s daily life, and Graves’ story. Throughout the film, these stories slowly come together for one huge plot twist at the end. Looking closely at a few of the scenes, you’ll see that Newt and his group of friends share the stage with Graves. However, he is not formally introduced to Newt’s story until the very end. Having seen and read the entire Harry Potter series myself, I did wonder at first if the film would be hard for people to follow. I concluded, however, that without any background whatsoever, you could still follow the story, with only minor disruptions about small references to characters mentioned in the former adventures of the magical world.
The film, being set in the 1920s, needed to be historically accurate and the filmmakers did a fantastic job achieving just that. Many of the existing Harry Potter fans more than likely noticed at the beginning of the film, there was the extremely popular and familiar, Hedwig’s Theme, along with the Warner Bros logo, before transforming into a more fast paced song which owns the namesake of the film itself. All of the songs within the movie soundtrack were written by James Newton Howard, with the exception of a jazz song played at a speakeasy within the film. The song named, “Blind Pig” was written by J.K. Rowling and Mario Grigorov, and sung by singer-songwriter Emmi.
When I first heard about Fantastic Beasts being a movie series, I felt a wave of relief come over me because there would not be a book to compare the movie to. However, since the movie did not have a book to accompany it, my expectations came from quality, not a book. After the success of the first part of the Harry Potter franchise, there were extremely high expectations for what was to come. Overall, the story and every other part of the film lived up to its potential, and brought fans back to the world they know and love.