In her screenplay debut, J.K. Rowling invites us to return to the magical world of Harry Potter decades before the “Boy Who Lived” was even born.
“Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” is a title wizards and Potterheads alike know all too well. In the tales of Harry Potter, we know it as the quintessential guide to magical creatures. In this fantastic tale, we meet its author Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne), who has yet to publish his pervasive text and has just arrived in 1920s New York City with an extraordinary case full of (you guessed it) some pretty fantastic beasts.
This wizarding world is a far cry from the halls of Hogwarts. With strange mystical “attacks” happening throughout the city and “Second Salemers” crying witch in the street, the American wizarding community (led by the Magical Congress of the United States of America…aka MACUSA) hides underground, fearful of exposing themselves to the no-majes (non-magic…aka muggles).
Needless to say, when Newt wanders into this magical powderkeg with a case full of creatures, which are then seen by no-maj Jacob Kowalski (Dan Fogler), he catches the attention of former-auror, Tina Goldstein (Katherine Waterston). And basically escapes punishment because of her poor standing with MACUSA (Yay office politics! Wizards, they’re just like us.).
Of course, in the interim, several of Newt’s creatures escape and mayhem ensues.
Meanwhile, Tina’s one apparent ally (apart from her mind-reading sister Queenie [Alison Sudol]) in MACUSA, auror Percival Graves, is trying to uncover the source of the “attacks” with the assistance of the adopted son of the “Second Salemers,” Credence (Ezra Miller).
And yes, these two apparently disparate plots have everything to do with each other. It’s magic.
This bewitching tale gives die-hard Potter fans new (yet old) tales to speculate, theorize, and agonize over while offering plenty for those new to the wizarding world (welcome!) to enjoy.
If you’re not enchanted by this beautiful prequel expansion of J.K. Rowling’s incredible wizarding world on its own, you can at least appreciate the feat of storytelling she has accomplished (and will continue for four more movies). It’s truly fantastic.
With promises of Paris and so many questions, I cannot wait to see where this latest incredible tale takes us. It’s certain to be magical.