November saw the release of the highly-anticipated spin-off prequel to the Harry Potter series, “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.” Loosely based on the 2001 book written by J.K. Rowling, she makes her screenwriting debut with Fantastic Beasts, continuing to create magic in the world most of us wished (and still wish) to live in. Like the Harry Potter series, “Fantastic Beasts” cleverly infuses thrills with themes of justice, serving as an allegory for nurturing understanding and compassion for all beings.
The film begins with Newt Scamander, a British wizard and magizoologist played by Eddie Redmayne, arriving in New York City for the first time in 1926. Not too long after his arrival, several of the magical creatures he keeps in his suitcase escape, threatening to expose magic to the whole world. Most witches and wizards view these creatures as inferior to them.
Later on, viewers learn that witches and wizards are forbidden from being in relationships with No-Majs (America’s term for Muggles). Scamander comments on how the Magical Congress of the United States of America (MACUSA) enforces strange rules such as that one. These aspects of the story further expand Rowling’s message that people can have a tendency towards exceptionalism, as well as slyly critiquing American politics.
All and all, this family-friendly visual splendor is bound to win over fans, if they’re in it for Scamander’s adventure in finding his creatures or for the strong, inspiring messages. Engaging performances all-around, especially by Ezra Miller as the deeply disturbed Credence Barebone.
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