You’ll be hard pressed to meet a person today that doesn’t know who Harry Potter is. But what about Newt Scamander?
Last Friday, Nov. 18, Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them premiered in the U.S, kicking off the five-movie saga with smashing success. Opening weekend made $75 million, and as the Thanksgiving holiday commences, revenue is only expected to climb. J.K Rowling herself wrote the screenplay, has already finished the second one, and has ideas for the third.
I had the pleasure of seeing the film opening night, and I was blown away. Don’t worry if you aren’t a Harry Potter fan; the movie has the unique stand-alone quality that invites viewers who haven’t seen any of the Harry Potter movies to still enjoy it. Taking the magical world to America was a fantastic idea because it’s nothing like Harry Potter’s world. Old and new fans alike will enjoy in the culture shock that is inevitable once the first scene plays.
Warning: Minor plot and character spoilers ahead.
In summary, an awkward Hogwarts graduate, Newt Scamander, and his mysterious suitcase arrive in 1926 New York City for an unknown purpose. Scamander works as an eccentric Magizoologist, and his arrival to New York sparks all kinds of exciting mayhem. His innocent visit turns sour when a few of his creatures escape and run rampant around New York City. Besides the risk that a No-Maj (non-magical people) will see them and expose the magical community, wizarding America has stringent laws against magical Beasts. It's a race to find all the Beasts before MACUSA (The Magical Congress of the United States of America) captures them first and destroys them.
Lovable characters include Newt, an awkward Hufflepuff that puts his creatures above all else; Jacob Kowalski, a hilarious No-Maj that gets wrapped up in the whole disaster; Tina, a MACUSA employee who tries her hardest to detain Newt; Queenie, Tina’s flirtatious sister; and Creedence Barebone, a very reluctant member of a No-Maj anti-wizard group, the New Salemers.
Besides the main storyline focusing on rounding up the magical creatures, there exists a subplot around the increase of Grindelwald threats worldwide. Gellert Grindelwald was introduced in the original Harry Potter series as a blood-supremacist dictator whose only aim is to conquer the world and enslave muggles. He was defeated in 1945 in a duel with his old friend, Albus Dumbledore, future Headmaster of Hogwarts. In Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them, Grindelwald’s threat to the magical community is only briefly addressed, but it remains one of the most important plot points in the film.
J.K Rowling announced that the five-movie saga will take place over the course of nineteen years. Interestingly enough, that would put the series end sometime during 1945, exactly when Grindelwald meets his defeat.
In my opinion, Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them has even surpassed some of the original Harry Potter movies in terms of quality. I encourage any Harry Potter fan to go see this movie, as well as anyone else who just wants to have a good time.
The release date for Fantastic Beasts 2 has not been officially confirmed, but a tentative date of Nov. 16, 2018 has been set.