Discover a new world of magic

Addition to “Harry Potter” universe a hit


Alyssa Kift

Photo illustration.

Story by Jillian Cheney, editor in chief

Missing Hogwarts? Craving chocolate frogs, butterbeer and every flavor beans? Find yourself “playing Quidditch” with a broom while you intend to perform simple household chores? Don’t worry; we’ve all been there. For Harry Potter fans and those new to the franchise, J.K. Rowling’s new film “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” is the fix you need to fulfill your desire for more magic.

The movie is based off of the 2001 novel written as a Hogwarts textbook, “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them,” that Rowling wrote to raise money for charity. The textbook on magical creatures was written by Newt Scamander, the protagonist of the film. He mentions this book–one that has yet to be completed–a few times in the movie, but it does not otherwise serve as an advancement to the storyline.

The setting is 1920s New York, and wizards in America are in hiding from the “no-maj” (the American word for “muggle”). In order to protect themselves from potential war between the magical and non-magical communities, they have banned the public use of magic and the fantastic beasts Scamander is so fond of. Die-hard fans know that this was near the time of Gellert Grindelwald’s attacks on the wizarding world; if you’re still wondering who that is, no worries. You’ll know soon enough.

Something that fans have appreciated (and that certainly didn’t make the film any worse) is the fact that Rowling actually wrote the screenplay for this movie herself. In this way, it’s more “Harry Potter” than all eight previous films, as she typically only helped produce the films or would advise certain decisions.

As always, the Harry Potter universe is magical no matter what the setting–from theme parks to an online universe–but it feels special to see the work of Rowling on the big screen. Her dialogue and plot, full of witty humor and extraordinary adventure, make the movie exciting from start to finish.

Events that occur throughout the film do, however, inspire a new appreciation for the skills of witches and wizards: without their spells, the property damage would be irreparable. Subway systems, apartment buildings, large skyscrapers and more are all destroyed by an escaped beast or an Obscurus, a beast that is more evil than innocent mischief.

The Obscurus is, quite honestly, the only beast inside Scamander’s large case that isn’t desirable for cuddling. The rest–including Nifflers, Bowtruckles and Erumpets–all have colorful personalities that some have said deserve more stardom than the main actors.

But credit must be given where credit is due. And each one of the actors deserves credit for their expert performance of these new characters.

Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne) is wonderfully quirky and socially awkward; the perfect genius magizoologist. He has devoted his life to the protection and rehabilitation of magical creatures, which is really what gets him into the mess of the American wizarding world in the first place. He’s a perfect protagonist and excellent wizard; both a contrast from The Chosen One Harry Potter and an excellent face for the expanded wizarding world.

Queenie (Alison Sudol) is the sister of main female protagonist Tina (Katherine Waterson), but she certainly stole the show. The Legilimens (she can read minds!) in some ways resembles Luna Lovegood, a friend of Harry’s during the original series. She seems a bit silly and empty-headed, but Queenie knows her abilities and uses them very well. If anything, her soft spirit makes her more lovable as a character. Her relationships with others and quick problem-solving certainly save the lives of both wizards and beasts.

Finally, James Kowalski (Dan Fogler) provides the humor and mishap of a no-maj experiencing the wizarding world for the first time. A chance encounter with Newt at the bank leads to the accidental release of a Niffler and a Murtlap bite on the neck. His companionship proves vital to the three main wizards, and by the end they have formed an attachment to him that can’t quite be broken.

And, after the credits roll and you realize you still can’t get enough of the American wizarding world, never fear. Simply visit Pottermore, the wonderful online website you can use to be sorted into a Hogwarts house and receive your wand, to embark upon your own magical adventure. There is now a section of Pottermore devoted to America: the wizarding school Ilvermorny, its various houses and many of the beasts seen in the movie.

On top of that, sequels are promised for the Fantastic Beasts universe, with appearances from Albus Dumbledore and others eagerly anticipated. If the following movies are as well-written and fantastic as the first, Scamander’s world of beasts is set to earn its rightful place among the beloved “Harry Potter” series.