Wizarding adventures continue in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

J. K. Rowling, upon finishing the Harry Potter series, continues to bring more stories that enrich our knowledge of the wizarding world. The latest is the movie Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, a wonderful addition to the series.

Though he does not appear in person in the original Harry Potter series, magizoologist Newt Scamander’s name first appears in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone as the author of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, a textbook for students at Hogwarts. (Rowling wrote just such a “textbook” by that title in 2001). In the current movie, Newt is exhilarated when he is asked to write a book to educate the magical community about the fantastic beasts. He starts traveling around the world to gather information about magical creatures. He also saves many of them from their vanishing habitats, in a way that is likely to astonish you.

The setting of New York in the 1920s is done well. The architecture is distinctly neoclassical, and many carriages are parked along the road. A magical version of the speakeasy also appears in the movie. The Magical Congress of United States (MACUSA) figures that wizards, like muggles, also need the secret enjoyment of liquor.

I like the way Eddie Redmayne shows Newt’s awkwardness with people and confidence with creatures. Yet my favorite portrayal is Alison Sudol’s Queenie Goldstein. Sudol captures Queenie’s gentle, empathetic, and slightly enigmatic character in every speech and movement, bringing the audience continuous delight. Queenie’s Legilimency, the ability to read minds, is not easy to act, but Sudol does it exceptionally well.

If you have seen the Harry Potter movies or read the books, you will recognize some names and magical attributes of objects. If you have not seen the movies or read the books, you can still enjoy this film, because it is only loosely connected to the original stories. Comparing to the original Harry Potter movies, this film is more action-packed and suspenseful, and the plot develops more rapidly, probably because the original manuscript is a screenplay rather than a novel. The abundant use of CGI makes the movie exciting to watch, but at times it is overdone. It is a good movie for the whole family to enjoy, but it is labeled PG-13 because some dark elements in it may be too scary for younger children.

There are five more movies ahead of us that will bring us on adventures we never experienced before in the wizarding world. In following movies, it is likely that the events in the wizarding world will collide with those in World War II. Prepare yourself for a wild ride filled with the beasts’ roars and the wizards’ spells!

Image source: Pottermore.

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