Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them: Spoiler Free Movie Review


Karina Ohri, Staff Writer

Remember Harry Potter? The book and movie franchise that dominated your childhood? Remember the happiness (yet longing) you felt after the “19 years later” epilogue? To stifle this just a little, JK Rowling has added another player to the game: Fantastic Beasts and Where to find them.

As a massive Harry Potter fan, I was delighted when I headed to the theaters and the opening sequence began; the familiar Warner Brothers logo and cloudy background made me want to cheer. Eddie Redmayne perfectly suits the role of Newt Scamander, the lovable Hufflepuff with a streak for danger.

Are you a seeker?”
“I’m more of a chaser, actually.”

The plot of the movie is extremely compelling, with each scene captured perfectly. The basic storyline is as follows: Newt Scamander has left England with a case full of magical creatures and arrived in New York. Unaware of the restrictive laws of the magical community, he stumbles right into danger after his creatures escape his case, and spends much of the movie chasing after his creatures (not playing Quidditch. I see you out there, you fans that got that reference!) There, he meets those who will join his team: the “No-maj” Jacob Kowalski, who  harbors a wish to open his own bakery, an auror for MACUSA (the magical government) named Tina, and her mind-reading (a Legilimens) sister Queenie. The creatures have even bigger personalities that the characters; you will fall in love with Newt’s mischievous Niffler, and his timid Bowtruckle, Wickett.

The movie demands the whimsicalness we recall from the Harry Potter movies, such as the memorable shot of Buckbeak bowing to Harry in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. And Fantastic Beasts does more than answer this demand. Each scene is gorgeous, enchanting us to a new magical community, still reminiscent of the last. The creatures are arguably the best thing about the movie, with silky feathers and and shiny fur, gleaming talons and fluffy ears.

The plot of the movie seems simple enough, but delves into something darker. Taking place in 1926 (fun fact: the year Voldemort wais born) Grindelwald has been terrorizing Europe, with the Americans fearful that the terror will spread across the Atlantic. Suspicion towards witchcraft grips the nation, echoing the Salem Witch trials some 200 years before. The magical government, MACUSA, has been cracking down on wizard and No-Maj interactions, and is desperate to find the perpetrator behind attacks responsible for the deaths of wizards and No-Majs alike. It’s not a great time for a foreign wizard to enter New York with dangerous and unpredictable creatures. Newt Scamander and all the characters are extremely likable, with Jacob Kowalski seeming to take on the persona of the audience.

All in all, I would recommend watching Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find them. Any Harry Potter fan will be extremely pleased, because while echoing the wizarding world of Harry Potter, it diverts from that path quite a bit. You can’t really compare the two, though I have just done so; Fantastic Beasts has to stand on its own and be judged as its own movie. I give this movie an 8.8 out of 10, and can’t wait to find out what happens after this cliffhanger. JK Rowling had promised us four other movies, the last one ending in 1945. For those Harry Potter fans out there, you know this is the year the legendary duel between Dumbledore and Grindelwald takes place. Whether we’ll see this is unsure, but I know that I’ll be first in line outside theaters to see the next installment of Fantastic Beasts. Until next time, Mr. Scamander.