As a self-described Harry Potter fanatic, I was thrilled to be returning to J.K. Rowling's beautiful Wizarding World. Oddly enough, Fantastic Beasts is not a book....in the ordinary sense. Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them was one of the schoolbooks at Hogwarts that was just a dictionary for all the magical creatures in the Wizarding World. So, then someone had the brilliant idea to to the title of a schoolbook and actually create a one way ticket back to magic, mystery and no small amount of mayhem.
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The Wizard and the No-Maj
In 1927, Newt Scamander, a young magizoologist (study of of magical creatures) arrives in Brooklyn, New York with only a battered, leather suitcase. Within this old case is his own world of rare and magical creatures that he has saved from extinction and studies in hopes of publishing his research for other people to better understand them. Newt's primary goal is to release a rare creature, the thunderbird (or Frank) into the open Arizona desert. However, this being the Wizarding World, nothing ever goes as it seems.
While at the bank, Newt runs into a no-maj (non-magical person), Jacob Kowalski. Jacob is hoping to open up a bakery, but unfortunately lacks the funds to do so. So when he and Newt get their suitcases mixed up, poor Jacob finds himself slap bang in the middle of the secret world of witches, wizards, goblins, bizarre creatures and a brewing battle of good and evil. As a no-maj, Jacob is forbidden to ever know about the magical world, yet, that doesn't deter Newt from convincing the kindly baker to join him on his escapade of good will...and trouble.
The Goldstein Sisters
Porpetina or Tina Goldstein is an auror (Wizarding World's FBI) who lost her job after she performed magic in front of a no-maj. Tina has a misfortune run in with Newt after she sees him performing magic in front of Jacob. When she tries to report him to Macusa (American Wizarding headquaters), they shoo her away believing she's only trying to get back her former position. Tina refuses to allow Newt and Jacob to run free through New York and after Jacob is hurt by one of Newt's creatures, Tina takes them both home.
At home, Jacob and Newt meet Queenie, Tina's younger sister. Queenie is a secretary and coffee girl at Macusa and is also a leglimens or telepathic. The complete opposite of her sister, Queenie is lively and full of fun and finds the no-maj entertaining while trying to break into Newt's secretive mind. Like Jacob, the Goldstein Sisters soon find themselves hunting down Newt's creatures, breaking Macusa law, raiding New York, engaging in a powerful wizarding battle, uncovering dark secrets, and even falling in love. Just a typical day for two girls from Brooklyn.
The Magical Congress of The United States of America or Macusa runs an efficient and secretive world for the livelihood and protection of all magical Americans. Unlike England where there is complete freedom of communication and companionship with non-magic people, American wizards must be on their guard constantly to avoid any contact with no-majs at the risk of being hunted, jailed or killed and their world destroyed.
Percival Graves, the head of magical security, believes that there is a child that could possibly be a key to ending all magical persecution. He enlists the help of a scared young boy, Credence, to aid him in finding this child under the guise of a loving mentor. Except, Percival is hardly kind or loving and there is a darkness inside him more powerful than anyone can imagine.
Meanwhile, the president of Macusa, Serephina Picquery, runs the American Wizarding World with an iron benevolence and will not have her authority undermined. While she fears the prejudice of no-majs, her worst fear is right next to her side and great sacrifices will be made for her to finally see it.
A fear mongering, anti-magic group of of nobodies who truly believe that they are making a difference by warning the good citizens of New York of the secret magical world. The Second Salemers are made of Mary Lou Barebone and her family. While giving the appearance of a poor and kindly woman who cares for orphans, Mary Lou is a hateful and maniacal zealot who abuses her own children, especially her oldest son Credence believing him to be filthy with his own mother's magic ability. Credence finds solace in the company of Percival Graves who promises to rescue him from Mary Lou if he assists him in finding this odd magical child. Overtime, Credence begins to break between having to hide his magic, Mary Lou's abuse and Percival's inhumane conquest.
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This movie! Everytime I watch it I love it over and over again! Fantastic Beasts kept with the traditional Harry Potter theme that great changes can be made through non-conformity. Harry Potter himself was an outsider who never fit in wherever he was and was always one to befriend other outsiders as well.
The same mindset in central to Fantastic Beasts. Newt was always the strange kid at school who buried himself into his studies. Tina and Queenie were orphaned at a young age and so they built their own world for themselves and where few people are allowed in. And Jacob is a no-maj who shouldn't even be there. All these outsiders came together with their own independent gifts and talents and fought against the grain of society to save society itself.
|This has become my life quote|
Eddie Redmayne was a perfect choice for Newt and brought his own quirky and gawky charm (no pun intended) to this role as he has done in past exceptional roles. The rest of the cast ensemble were superb, even the non human ones. The costumes....oh the costumes! It's 1920's New York, need I say anymore on the subject?! All costumes were beautiful with just a little hint of unique Wizarding World style.
After seeing this movie on the big screen for the first time I felt like I had never left the Harry Potter universe. It was wonderful to see a different and fresh storyline taking place in another era and in another country without losing the central core of a magical world that's all around us. And like with Harry Potter, Fantastic Beasts forever explores and questions the never-ending battle of good v evil, the humanity of ones soul and the destruction of great power if put in the wrong hands.