If you’re looking for a way back into the Wizarding World (or are venturing there for the first time), ‘Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them’ is just the way to do it. Although I avidly kept up with the original Harry Potter series in both book and movie format, I did not know really what to expect walking into the theater for this film. With a crew of familiar faces from the Potter family serving as directors, writers and producers, what I did know was that the film was going to be a treat.
That being said, this is not a film I expect children to grow up with as they did the ‘Potter’ series. This will not be a film that I take my niece and nephews to see, nor will I buy them the DVD for their birthdays. It is good that the original Potter-heads have grown up since the original series because what was most surprising about this film was just how dark it got.
Anyone who knows about Voldemort knows the kind of twisted sense of power and entitlement he holds. But honestly, the dark magic we see in this film at the hands of children is even more frightening. Infamous dark wizard Gellert Grindlewald’s motivations and actions make Voldemort seem like a small aftershock that follows a devastating earthquake. Sure, it can make buildings fall, but the foundation has already been devastated by that first hit, and Grindlewald is nothing if not a first, devastating hit to the Wizarding World.
Though covered with dark themes throughout, ‘Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them’ has the wonderful quality of protagonists who have nothing but their innate selflessness to guide them against these forces of evil. If there are ulterior motives behind their actions, they are hidden well enough that it will be a complete shock later on in the series.
Newt Scamander, played by English actor Eddie Redmayne, fully embodies the house of Hufflepuff as the awkward but curious learner, bridging the gap for those in power when it comes to humans and creatures. Portrayed by actress Katherine Waterson, Tina Goldstein’s determination to do right is not wholly overshadowed by her tendency to get herself into trouble – and, as with most films, trouble does ensue. There are darkness and secrets in their past, but it seems more motivating than troubling to our young heroes.
The creatures themselves offer not just a great glimpse into the Wizarding World many of us grew up with, but also cheekiness and laughter (I’m looking at you, Niffler) to what would otherwise be a fairly dark film to behold. Of course, thanks to actor Dan Fogler, we have our ever-confused non-magical friend Jacob Kowalski to add not only humor but a sense of assimilation for the audience, who may be learning about the Wizarding World (or at least some of the creatures) for the first time as well.
Despite its darkness, I found ‘Fantastic Beasts’ to be a wonderful continuation of the Wizarding World with enough fresh new elements to keep old fans intrigued and bring in new ones as well.