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Review: 'Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them'

by Marianne Farrell

Photo courtesy of Facebook

It has certainly seemed longer than a mere six years since Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part II left Potterheads everywhere weeping and heartbroken over the end of the franchise. But when it was announced that a new movie about J.K. Rowling’s wizarding world was to be released, fans everywhere were both overwhelmingly excited and skeptical of the new film. How could this one movie compare to the brilliance of the eight movies before it?

Luckily, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them definitely lives up to the Potter name.

“I was really excited to see Fantastic Beasts because I loved Harry Potter as a kid,” said Kristin Lunt (COM ’20). “It made me really excited for the news movies and what else is to come.”

However, Fantastic Beasts got off to a rocky start. The movie begins with a fast-paced sequence of newspaper clippings with headlines referring to No-Majs (the term that replaces “muggles” for non-wizards in the U.S.), and blurbs about the notorious mass murderer, Gellert Grindlewald.

The opening sequence, and even the first half an hour of the movie, whizzes by so fast that it’s hard to understand the events of the movie. Even during the first meeting with Eddie Redmayne’s character, Newt Scamander, it is a bit uncomfortable and weird to say the least: he clutches to a large brown briefcase murmuring soothing words to the creatures living inside of it. His approach to playing Scamander at first comes across as clunky and awkward.

While the other main characters are introduced, such as Scamader’s sidekick, Jacob Kowalski (Dan Fogler) and the two very cool love interests—and sisters—Porpentina (Katherine Waterson) and Queenie (Alison Sudol), the movie rushes ahead. It seems that these actors did not have enough time to play and understand the motivations behind their characters at some points.

However, the novelty of new introductions was not altogether lost.

“I really liked the characters,” said Ava Morrison, (COM ’20). “I think they’re really cool and dynamic.”

Luckily, the somewhat outrageous plot saved the floundering actors. The movie finally began to pick up the pieces once Scamander and Kowalski are forced together. During a hilariously messy accidental bank robbing, the pair—along with Popentina and Queenie—are forced into a search for several beasts.

Whether they were performing mating ritual dances for a hippo-like beast in the Central Park Zoo or fighting a liquid-like shape-shifting snake and his invisible babysitter, Dougal, the nonstop action during the middle of the movie is incredibly fun and enjoyable.

Entering Scamander’s briefcase reveals an entirely new aspect of the wizarding world that no one has ever seen before with Potter’s original storyline—and it allows the magic to truly continue.

Unfortunately, the beast-capturing soon takes a dark turn when Scamander’s pets come under fire from MACUSA, The Magical Congress of the United States of America, following a mysterious series of attacks on the locals of New York City. It is then up to Porpentina, an ex-auror from MACUSA, Kowalski and Scamander to debunk the dangerous rumors

“Creatures. Comedy. Love story. We hope it continues on from here,” said moviegoer Margaret Casimir. “It’s nothing like [I] expected…[I] didn’t expect to enjoy it this much.”

The movie is one action-packed event after another. From the return of mysterious suitcases to the new setting of 1920s New York, the cast and crew do a magnificent job of incorporating the wizarding world we all know and love, with a brand new set of characters.

There will always be those opposed to this new wizarding world of Harry Potter, but fortunately, most avid Potterheads should be extremely pleased with this new movie.

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