November 28, 2016
For 19 years, kids and adults alike have been waiting for their acceptance letter from the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.
While “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” was not set in the beloved English school of Hogwarts, audiences were introduced to American wizard life and captivated, yet again, by the creative mind of J.K. Rowling, the sole screenwriter of the film.
Rowling’s film revolves around Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne), an ex-Hogwarts student and the writer of the Hogwarts’ textbook, “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them,” published by Rowling in 2001.
The film, set in 1926, follows Scamander as he travels to New York with magical creatures in his suitcase. Upon his arrival, Scamander mixes suitcases with Jacob Kowalski (Dan Fogler), a no-maj, the American wizard term for non-magic human.
There is a dark force terrorizing New York, and this mix-up releases some of the beasts into the city, adding to the already tense atmosphere between wizards and no-majs.
Redmayne played a nervous, skittish Scamander, making it hard to grasp his dedication to his animals. As the film proceeded, audience members became attached to the kind-hearted Hufflepuff and his beloved creatures.
Throughout the story, the audience is introduced to Porpentina Goldstein (Katherine Waterston), former auror, special officer for the Magical Congress of the US, her sister Queenie (Alison Sudol) and auror Percival Graves (Colin Farrell).
As promised in the title, the audience was dazzled with magical creatures of varying sizes and abilities as they tromped through New York.
Beasts included a niffler, an animal resembling a kleptomaniac mole; bowtruckles, which look like small, green twigs with a keen understanding of lock-picking; and a massive hippogriff with three sets of wings and an ear-piercing shriek.
Another alluring element of the film was the relationship between auror Graves and a teenage boy, Credence (Ezra Miller), as the two searched for a young child.
Credence happens to be the son of a woman who is attempting to ignite a second Salem, ridding New York of magic and those who practice it. With what could be read as sexual tension, Credence and Graves play an important role as the plot unfolds.
Rowling was joined by director David Yates, who also directed the four most recent Harry Potter films, executive producer Neil Blair and producer Steve Kloves, the adapter of most of the previous films.
An excellent score by James Newton Howard gave reference to the original score from the Harry Potter films by John Williams, using elements of “Hedvig’s Theme.” This allowed audience members to reminisce about the original movies as they watched Scamander and company search for the escaped beasts.
“Fantastic Beasts” only begins to explore the American element of the fantastical world given to the fans by J.K. Rowling. While the film held its own story line and tied it all together in the end, it also left mentions of characters and plotlines never fully explained.
This gives way to the next film, “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them 2,” to be released in 2018.