Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them: Wizarding Reignited


Laila Borden, Reporter

As a childhood Harry Potter fan, I was thrilled to hear that J.K. Rowling’s fantasy world, in which I spent countless hours during my years of imaginary friends and unquestioned belief in magic, would be reignited on screen with Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. At first, I was unsure if the film could be made without forced references to the original stories, but after viewing, I was delighted to find that the 1920s wizarding community of New York City was a gracious compliment to the former wizarding world of early 2000s Great Britain.

Directed by David Yates, the director of the last 4 Harry Potter movies, the cinematography stays true to the franchise with wonder-provoking shots of hidden magic within our seemingly ordinary world. The movie begins in 1926 when Newt Scamander (played by Eddie Redmayne) arrives in New York City by boat carrying a suitcase full of magical creatures disguised as an ordinary suitcase. When a frenzy inside a No-maj (American wizarding term for individuals who do not possess magical abilities) bank involving a greedy escaped critter and a comical No-maj named Jacob Kowalski (Dan Fogler) occurs, Porpentina “Tina” Goldstein (Katherine Waterston), an ex-auror, turns in Scamander to the Magical Congress of the United States of America (MACUSA), where she is promptly ignored because of a recent digression of hers. After Scamander and Goldstein discover that Mr. Kowalski mistakenly took Scamander’s case of creatures, they rescue him from his apartment where he was bitten by a creature that escaped among others to the streets of New York. On those same streets, a dangerous mutation of an oppressed wizard, called an obscurus, wreaks havoc on the city, threatening to expose the existence of magic. Meanwhile, the New Salem Philanthropic Society, led by Mary Lou Barebone (Samantha Morton), warns against the dangers of wizards living among citizens using propaganda spread by desperate orphans whom Barebone feeds under the condition of absolute obedience. The plot follows Scamander, accompanied by Kowalski, Goldstien, and her seductress sister, Queenie (Alison Sudol), as they reacquire his escaped creatures and eventually, in a bittersweet conclusion, assist MACUSA in restoring the guarded relationship between the non-magic world and the American wizarding community. Of course, no blockbuster adventure movie in this era would be complete without a romantic sub-plot; the audience enjoys both a forbidden, but nonetheless sweet, romance and Scamander’s awkward deflections of human affection, which ultimately contributes multiple goodbye scenes and leaves viewers with warm hearts.

Although Scamander’s views begin as cynical against the nature of humanity and he would rather spend his time in the company of his misunderstood “beasts,” the characters he meets along his journey, both evil and good, teach him about human complexity and the power of empathy. The film sends a powerful message about the difference between true, ruthless evil and wickedness which is spawned through pain and oppression. It reminds viewers to have compassion for the confused and distressed and to beware of those willing to exploit human suffering and create hate where there is simply misunderstanding.

Overall, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them was thoroughly enjoyable and all at once comedic, tragic, and touching. I would recommend it to any of my fellow Harry Potter lovers as well as anyone who enjoys fantasy and delightfully adorable characters and creatures.