Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (2016) – The Magic Returns

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Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them was the silver lining of 2016 for the fans of J.K. Rowling’s Wizarding World. Since the film’s announcement in 2013, those who can’t get enough of this world have been eagerly awaiting it and the time has finally come to see it on the big screen. The film is set in 1926 New York and is a prequel to the Harry Potter series but, unlike the Harry Potter movies, the screenplay for this one was written by J.K. Rowling herself. The film is based on a book of the same name published in 2001 as a supplement to the Harry Potter book series, a textbook used by the Harry Potter characters. In this case, the movie follows Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne)’s quest to find his lost Beasts in the streets of New York, and although it is not directly connected to Harry Potter’s story, fans will undoubtedly find references to J.K. Rowling’s famous series.

The Oscar-winning actor Eddie Redmayne was a real delight as the absent-minded yet witty Magizoologist Newt Scamander and will be portraying the new, amicable character for the years to come. Alongside him star Katherine Waterston as the lovely Tina; Colin Farrell as villain, manipulator, Auror and Director of Magical Security Percival Graves; Ezra Miller as creepy Credence Barebone, and Dan Fogler as Jacob Kowalski, the first ever non-magical main character in the Wizarding World franchise. Many were surprised by the small cameo appearance made by Johnny Depp towards the end of the film, who depicted villain Gellert Grindelwald from the original franchise (who, you’ll remember, was finally defeated by the all-powerful wizard Dumbledore), and most likely will continue to do so in the sequels. As the title states, this film, of course, featured many “Fantastic Beasts”; the audience was overloaded with cuteness from creatures like the Niffler, who is known for collecting (valuable) shiny objects, and Pickett the Bowtruckle, a tiny walking branch who lives in Newt’s coat-collar. On top of that, it was a real treat to see Redmayne do a mating dance to catch the Erumpent, a giant beast that resembles a rhinoceros. Fans will not be disappointed by the number of different fantastic beasts newly introduced into the wizarding world, nor by the original beasts they will recognise from Harry Potter, such as the Thestral (only visible to those who have witnessed the death of a person).

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Characters featured in the film. From left to right: Seraphina Picquery (Carmen Ejogo), Queenie Goldstein (Alison Sudol), Credence Barebone (Ezra Miller), Tina Goldstein (Katherine Waterston), Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne), Jacob Kowalski (Dan Fogler), Percival Graves (Colin Farrell), Mary Lou Barebone (Samantha Morton) and Gnarlack (Ron Perman).

Scenes of the movie range from light and humorous to dark and emotional. The character of Jacob Kowalski (Dan Fogler) serves as a perfect comic relief. On the other hand, the character of Credence (Ezra Miller) displays the darker themes of the film; darker, in fact, than the themes in the first few Harry Potter movies. Moreover, Miller has delivered a great performance, making the audience feel both intimidated and emotionally concerned for his character.

Another very prominent aspect of the film, seeing as it was full of all kinds of beasts and creatures, was the CGI. Besides adding a whole new level of magic by making the most extravagant beings come to life, the special effects will be even greatly appreciated if the movie is seen in 3D. Viewers will notice that things deliberately pop out of the screen, making them feel as if they are on the lookout for Beasts alongside Scamander. By the time the audience walks out of the movie theatre, they will wish they had a magical briefcase of their own.

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Some of the magical creatures brought to life in the film. From left to right: an Occamy, a Niffler, a Demiguise and a Bowtruckle.

It would be safe to say that the film was a real success; it became the ninth highest grossing film of 2016. In addition, J. K. Rowling has also promised her fans that four sequels are on the way so there will be much to look forward to. As if that was not enough, Rowling has also released the screenplay for the film in book form, a beautifully published edition and a beautiful addition to your bookshelf. It is highly recommended that you see the film, especially if you consider yourself to be a Potterhead. The film is packed with original material, references and homages to the original Harry Potter books and films as well as references to the textbook, extending the Wizarding World that the fans can’t get enough of. We suggest to Muggle and No-Maj alike to hurry to see the film, because it is a must!

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Cover of the screenplay in book form, now released in bookstores around the world.

-Femke & Catalina

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