This past weekend, cinemas once again opened their doors and invited us into the magical world of wizardry–a place I’ve called home since I was 7 years old and just learning to read.
Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them is an exciting reintroduction to a world we all know so well. A prequel of sorts to the original Potter franchise, Beasts takes place across the pond in New York in 1926, an age where wizards are feared and banished underground–an interesting parallel to the Prohibition era in which it takes place.
The first of five movies, Beasts acquaints us with Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmanye), a creature fanatic and Hufflepuff who has been expelled from Hogwarts School Of Witchcraft and Wizardry. We don’t know much about why he was kicked out or his background, but we do know that Albus Dumbledore (yes, THE Albus Dumbledore) has his back… and that’s good enough for me.
The film begins at the end of Newt’s journey to New York, where he arrives undocumented with a case of magical beasts. After experiencing a bit of culture shock (No-maj? Really? We all know they are called muggles), Newt finds himself wrapped up in a tizzy with the Magical Congress who are accusing him of releasing a dangerous and unstable dark force into New York. Alongside his new friends, Newt embarks on a heroic adventure to collect his escaped creatures and prove his innocence.
What I especially loved about the opening to this new franchise is that it played out like a serialized TV show. There was the smaller arc of this specific film of running around to get his animals back and the introduction of a bigger story that will carry out throughout. Unlike Harry Potter, where every thing came back to Voldemort and Harry’s position as ‘The Chosen One,’ this story feels more expansive.
Still, even though it’s a brand new adventure with new characters and rules, it was exceptionally familiar and nostalgic. As a ‘Potter-head’ myself, the simple utterance of ‘Alohamora’ or the scattering of Hedwig’s Theme throughout the movie’s score was enough to satisfy me. More than that though, the way J.K. Rowling and Steve Kloves created a new story with connections to the one we know so well (seriously, what was with the LeStrange name drop?) made for an exciting viewing experience. This film prompted new questions and potential connections to the previously established characters without ostracizing people who knew nothing about the world going in.
In other words, you don’t have to be a Harry Potter fan to enjoy this film.
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‘Fantastic Beasts’ is a Fantastic Trip Back To The Wizarding World: Photos courtesy of Warner Brothers