By Stephanie Rosauri
If you are a self-proclaimed Potterhead like me, or if you just enjoy good movies, then you will immensely enjoy “Fantastic Beasts and Where to find them.”
After the final installment of the Harry Potter series came out, I never thought I would see another movie set in the Harry Potter universe. I thought that I would never again go to the movies and see a zoom in on the Warner Brothers logo while “Hedwig’s Theme” played in the background. However, this weekend I went to the movies to see “Fantastic Beasts and Where to find them” and the entire world I thought I would never be able to explore again was played on the big screen right before my very eyes. Unlike other things from your childhood that you outgrow this, world that I thought I left behind was bigger and more magnificent than I remembered.
The film begins with shots of many different Daily Prophets, the wizarding newspaper, talking about “Gellert Grindewald” which Potter fans will recognize as one of the darkest wizards to ever exist. This opening parallels “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix” which also opened with Daily Prophets with headlines about Voldemort, another dark wizard. There are many parallels throughout the entire movie with “the Order of the Phoenix.”
The first spells that are performed in the movie come right after Newt Scamander, the protagonist of the film, disapparates (a spell to disappear from one place and reappear in another) the next two spells he performs are “Alohamora” (a spell to open closed doors) and “Petrificus Totalus” (A spell to petrify someone for a short amount of time) which fans will remember as spells from the first Harry Potter movie, “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone.” The film also contained a scene where a man calls an orphan “boy” and a “freak” which many will remember is exactly what Uncle Vernon referred to a young, orphaned Harry Potter as.
Many of the creatures you will recognize from the original series or if you went out and bought the “Fantastic Beasts.” You might recognize the beasts Newt calls “nifflers” or “erumpents”. It is amazing to see this beasts that you had to imagine in your mind come alive right before you. Even if you have no idea what an erumpent is or if you don’t know that their horns have exploding properties you will still enjoy seeing what is basically a huge magical rhinoceros run around New York.
There were a few other things about the movie that I did not understand or like but since I loved this movie so much I will only briefly go over those things now. There was a scene where the American wizarding president was discussing “unexplained activity” happening in New York that could reveal wizards, so the international community was threatening to send a delegation. Later we see the delegation they send and there are obviously many people from around the world in attendance. So then, why when this small thing happens they send a delegation but when an entire community is at war and a school gets attacked multiple times they do not send a delegation?
Eddie Redmayne who portrayed Newt Scamander suffered from a bit of mumbling during his performance which made a few of his lines a bit unintelligible but I can forgive that because his performance was otherwise absolutely amazing.
Beyond his flaws, Eddie Redmayne makes the character Newt Scamander come alive in every way you would want him to. He is just about the most Hufflepuff person ever including the fact that he sports a scarf in the Hufflepuff colors; yellow and gray. A Hufflepuff for those who do not know is basically someone who values hard work, patience, loyalty and fair play, and they are also known to be a bit of an airhead. He held his wand in his mouth while holding a hatching egg in his hands and he let creatures loose within a day of arriving in America which just shows how adorably aloof he is. When a muggle asks if he is a seeker, as in a person seeking the truth, he replies that he is more of a chaser which is both the kind of person he is — chasing adventure, and a play on Quidditch positions. When he is caring for the beasts he refers to himself as “mum” and says “mum’s here”. The entire reason he is even in America is that he is bringing a traffic creature he named “Frank” back to his homeland in Arizona which is a particularly Hufflepuff thing to do.
Besides Newt, the character Queenie portrayed by Alison Sudol stole the show. She is a fashion forward, kind hearted witch who is extremely talented and an accomplished legilimens which means she can read people’s minds. Legilimency is an extremely difficult thing to master and the fact that she can do it so easily is an amazing feat.
The CGI for the magical creatures looked wonderful. This was something that completely exceeded the original movies. The beasts looked even more real in this film and they truly did look “fantastic”. People of all ages will also enjoy this movie. Children will enjoy the fantastical world laid out before them as much as adults will and adults will also appreciate the great plot and nostalgia felt when watching it.
If you are at all concerned with current affairs this movie will be especially relevant to you. This movie has been in the works for a very long time so I do not think that it was the intention of the filmmakers to create a film with a plot so relevant to current events. However, the things that are currently happening in our world are not new but rather the same old things that continuously happen. There are multiple “bad guys” in the film but the main “bad guy” is Mary Lou Barebone who is a “second Salemer” and speaks out about “witches among us”. This is coupled with the fact that the other “bad guy” is a “parasite” called an obscurus (which, funnily enough, was originally the name of the company that published the “Fantastic Beasts” book to begin with). *Spoiler Alert* an obscurus is formed when a child tries to suppress their magic.
This makes the movie even more relevant to today. No matter where you stand on the political spectrum you will notice that around the world there is more and more nationalism and xenophobia going around. Just in the western world in the past year the UK has passed Brexit and the US has voted in a person that many believe will cause more xenophobia in the country. In the past couple of weeks there have been protests and hate crimes across the United States which are seeming less and less united. A movie that deals with figuring out what is just and question who certain laws protect is all the more relevant in a political climate like the one we are living through right now. You are never too old to learn from a movie, especially one that states and questions things so eloquently.