Fantastic Beasts receives fantastic reviews at the box office


Eddie Redmayne as Newt Scamander, the main character of the movie, casting a spell to further himself on his journey to recapture the beasts.

Emma Levin, Contributing Writer

Although Warner Bros. will not be taking us back to Hogwarts with Harry Potter, they are introducing us to another witty wizard.  Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, a prequel to the Harry Potter series, comes out in theaters on November 18 in 2-D and 3-D.

This story, taking place over half a century before Harry Potter is born, is about the Wizarding World in New York City.  Even though the protagonists are different, some important concepts and characters like dark magic, muggles, and Albus Dumbledore remain in this new film.  Additional similarities include the director David Yates and author J.K.  Rowling.

“I’m really excited to see a new era of the Wizarding World.  The fact that it will take place in New York is especially great,” said sophomore Megan Day.

The acclaimed Academy Award winning actor Eddie Redmayne (for The Theory of Everything) portrays the shy, awkward beast expert, Newt Scamander.  After considering talented actors, like Matt Smith and Nicholas Hoult, Redmayne was chosen for the role.

“I’m happy he was cast as the lead, and I’m excited to see how he performs in this role,” said sophomore Hannah Hirsch.

Newt Scamander journeys from London to New York City in 1926 during a time of chaos.  An unknown threat has been wreaking havoc on the city, which could dangerously uncover the Wizarding World.  Gellert Grindelwald, a dark wizard, has also vanished, leaving the wizards anxious.  To make matters worse, Newt Scamander’s friend Jacob Kowalski accidentally loses some of his creatures, which disperse throughout the city.

Kowalski, with sisters Tina and Queenie Goldstein, aid Scamander in his search to recapture his beasts.  Several beasts seen throughout the film include the Niffler, Erumpent, and Redmayne’s favorite, the Bowtruckle.

A noticeable difference of this film to the previous J. K. Rowling films is the portrayal of the characters who are not wizards.  In this film, the wizards are clearly hiding and persecuted by the non-wizards, called No-Majs.  This antagonism leads to visible tensions displayed by the two groups in the film.  The New York Times alluded to the similarity between the persecution of the wizards and the Salem witch trials.

“I can’t wait for the next Harry Potter installment.  I’m most excited to see wizardry in both a new continent and time period,” said sophomore Melissa Pittard.

In addition to Redmayne, celebrated actors portray these new characters.  Dan Fogler plays Kowalski, and Katherine Waterston and Alison Sudol play the two sisters.  Other commended performers in this film are Colin Farrell, from Saving Mr. Banks, and Ezra Miller , from Trainwreck.  The beloved Johnny Depp has also been cast in the sequel of this film

The title of the movie and the character Newt Scamander might be familiar to some Harry Potter enthusiasts.  This is because Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them was originally a book written by J.K. Rowling in 2001, and Newt Scamander was the hypothetical author.  In the Harry Potter series, this book was a textbook about beasts from which the students at Hogwarts studied.  Rowling created this book to simulate the textbook, for it contains notes from the characters like Harry, Ron, and Hermione.  This book was the basis on which Rowling wrote the screenplay for the movie.

Harry Potter fans all over the world have been anticipating the release of this film.  Last winter, a short clip from the movie was shown to fans at Universal Studios in honor of the annual Harry Potter Celebration.  Universal Studios started creating rides and attractions with a Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them theme in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.  Additionally, the cast appeared at the San Diego Comic Con last July in front of many enthusiastic fans.

“Even though I’m not a big Harry Potter fan, I am so excited to see this new movie.  It looks great,” said sophomore Julianna Marinelli.

This movie is the first of a five movie series that will take place in New York.  J. K. Rowling has already written the second installment, which will be released in 2018.  Like the Harry Potter movies, viewers will be kept in suspense until the end of the fifth film.