After many years of waiting, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them starring Eddie Redmayne, Katherine Waterston, Colin Farrell, along with Ezra Miller, finally premiered on November 18th. The film takes place in New York during the year 1926. This thrilling action and adventure movie has 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.
After the opening credits, the movie opens to Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne) at Ellis Island trying to enter the country and talking to immigration officers. This shows us that the brief case he is carrying is not a regular case. The case, filled with magical beasts, would be described as contraband in America. A few scenes later we realize that Newt has accidentally switched his case with a “no maj’s” a non-magical person, case and accidentally released several of the beasts from the case. One of these beasts known as a “niffler,” a creature attracted to shiny objects such as money, jewelry, and watches. When Newt and the no-maj, Jacob Kawalski (Dan Fogler), try to catch the rather cute platypus-looking animal, they find him in a jewelry shop stealing all the jewelry for himself. After they struggle to catch him, they finally are able to put him back in the case. In the next scene, we saw two people in an alley talking about a child under ten that the seventeen year old boy Credence (Ezra Miller) must find. Credence, a child growing up as a no-maj child in a home with several other children that go out everyday to hand out flyers preaching that there needs to be a “modern” Salem witch trial. A few minutes later, we are taken in what is the American magical government building. A conversation taking place in the building brings us to the realization that Percival Graves was the man talking to Credence in the alley and the scene fades leaving us wondering about what exactly they discussed. Eventually, Newt and Jacob caught all of the beasts that had gotten out. However, Porpentina “Tina” Goldstein (Katherine Waterston) caught them and took them straight to the government, where the gang got locked up and questioned by Graves, where Newt calls out a serious foreshadow. Eventually, everyone escaped the jail. However, the ending plot twist most definitely surprised the entire audience.
The movie itself takes us through 3 different storylines simultaneously: Newt’s adventure, Credence’s daily life, and somewhat intertwining with Credence’s life includes Graves’ story. Throughout the show these stories slowly come together for the 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 sometimes share the stage with Graves. However, he did not receive a formal introduction 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 itself would be hard for people who have never experienced any part of the franchise before would understand the plot. After getting an opinion of someone in this position, I concluded that without any background whatsoever, you could follow the story with only minor disruptions about small references to characters noted of in the former adventure of the magical world.
The film, set in the 1920s, needed to be historically accurate. When looking throughout scenes in the film, you’ll find that they generally fit the city style and fashion of the time period. Another important aspect of the movie includes the beasts, hence their acknowledgement in the title. Since most of the creatures moved quickly and continually throughout their screen time, many people had difficulty getting to study the details and variety within them. However, looking closely at the pictures of them, you can find great detail in each and every one you see.
Many of the previous Harry Potter fans more than likely noticed that at the beginning of the film, you could hear 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 on the movie soundtrack, composed 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 that 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 full potential, and brought fans back to the world they know and love.