HBO News Blog

HBOWatch Movie Review: “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them”

By Alexandra Mitchell on Aug 11, 2017 to New Movies

If you are like me, and I do certainly hope so, then you believe that there is nothing more glorious for the world state than more Harry Potter Universe.  We are agreed, yes?  Good, now we can move on.  Admittedly, I have been a Harry Potter fanatic since I was very young.  It got me through some of the worst troubles of my life.  All of which is in depth discussed on my blog if you’re so inclined *wink, wink, nudge, nudge.*  But for now, let’s discuss the wonder of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.

Briefly mentioned in the original Harry Potter storylines, Newt Scamander is a magical zoologist who studied a vast lot of creatures and wrote extensively about them.  Enough that his writings became a textbook and the go-to resource for knowledge on magical animals.  Fantastic Beasts follows Newt as he travels to America, New York to be exact, to return a magical creature of great power to its home.  Portrayed by Eddie Redmayne, Newt arrives in the Big Apple with his case of infinite holding (see also Hermione’s bag in Deathly Hallows) and unfortunately for the denizens of NYC, the case pops open and unleashes creatures of mystical properties and mischievous intentions.  In his quest to recover his creatures, he mixes up with a No-Maj (see also Muggle, Non Magic Folk).  Jacob, played by Dan Fogler, is on a quest of his own but becomes derailed and caught up in a world of which he knows absolutely nothing.  Dogging Newt’s trail is Tina, played by Katherine Waterston, who is desperate to get back into her bosses’ good graces at MACUSA (Magical Congress of the United States of America) which functions much like the Ministry of Magic back in the good ole UK.  Also wrapped up in the chaos is Tina’s sister Queenie (Alison Sudol) and MACUSA big wig Graves (Colin Farrell).  But whose intentions can Newt trust?  And how hard will it be to protect the creatures he loves?

The story is admittedly always going to be my favorite part of this film.  Because Harry Potter is everything to me.  That being said, even if I wasn’t the HUGE Harry Potter fan that I am, the acting alone carries this film.  And that is a big deal.  I truly believe that someone could come into watching this film having no knowledge of the HP universe and still have an utterly delightful time watching this film.  Plus feel all the feels.  No joke.  All the feels. 

The most fascinating aspect of the film is the idea of prejudice.  In this film it comes in two forms, both dangerous and based in ignorance.  Pretty much like every other prejudice.  The first form comes against Newt’s animals.  It is easy to hate animals that you see as dangerous if you know nothing about them.  It is the same in the world right now with the idea of bully breeds.  Let me say this now, I have been around many Pitbulls and it every bit matters how they are raised.  I have seen two grown Pitbulls become protectors of their owner’s newborn baby.  And I was raised with a Rottweiler who was the biggest baby in the world and got scared when cars went by too loudly.  Just because you don’t understand the animal does not mean you have to hate it.  It’s easy to have fear, but you can’t let that keep you from understanding.

The other aspect is the intermingling of magical folk and No-Majs.  Now, in the original Harry Potter, this is brought up a bit.  There are wizards who believe in purely magical blood and not mixing with Muggles.  But even though they believe that way, wizard bloodlines have already become so diluted from marriages with Muggles that the idea of completely pureblood no longer exists.  In this film, Newt is frowned upon for even talking to Jacob.  That the idea of keeping the wizarding world so completely a secret means not even engaging with him for any reason.  Kind of ridiculous right?  Especially considering he freaking helps Newt save everything.  But them’s the rules I guess.  However it does make you wonder why the hate even from friendly magical people…

Even if you have no basis for the wonderful world that is magic and the Harry Potter Universe, this is a well acted and well put together film.  The journey and jaunt of Newt through New York in search of his creatures will have you laughing one minute and crying the next.  You’ll find yourself enthralled in an epic tale of adventure and understanding.  Not only does it makes you think, but it can start great conversations with your kids.  For now, I leave you to enjoy this clip of Newt battling with a Niffler.  And can only say Accio Sequel!

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