By Bonnie DeShong
I didn’t realize how much I had missed J.K. Rowling’s stories of wizards, witches, creatures, and mystical beings until I heard the strands of Hedwig’s Theme during the opening credits of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. I settled in my seat and waited in anticipation as I prepared to be absorbed into a world fantasy, magic, and the idea of perhaps.
While wizards, witches, and magical things may be accepted in Europe, the United States just isn’t ready for that sort of awareness. The world of magic is strictly hidden and controlled by the MCUSA, (Magical Congress of the United States of America.)
There are a lot of fantastic, interesting, and funny beasts, however, as to be expected in Rowling’s writing; where there is light, beauty, happiness; there is darkness, evil, and sadness.
The film is set in 1926, some thirty years before Harry Potter and his friends come on the scene.
The Light – Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne), a quirky writer is traveling the world on a quest to gather information and study fantastic magical beasts. He takes a ship to New York for a brief stop over before heading to Arizona to return the Thunderbird to its home. He carries his studies, beasts, and portal to another dimension in a plain brown leather satchel.
The Dark – Gellert Grindelwald, a dark, powerful, and dangerous wizard whose goal is to bring magic out of secrecy and rule over anyone who is not magic.
The Light – Jacob Kowalski (Dan Fogler), a lovable, trusting No-Maj (Muggle) factory worker who wants to obtain a loan to open a bakery. This puts him in the path of Newt and his adventure begins into the world of magic. Porpentina (Tina) Esther Goldstein (Katherine Waterston), who had a high position as an auror with the MCUSA, but was busted down to issuing wand permits after being caught using magic to defend a No-Maj; and her Marilyn Monroe look alike younger sister, Queenie (Alison Sudol) who has a big heart, can read minds, and has a big crush on Jacob.
The Dark – The Second Salemers led by Mary Lou Barebone (Samantha Morton) whose goal is to wipe out magic and persecute all magical beings. She is a tyrant to the children she has claimed as her wards.
The Light – The Fantastic Beasts who are not only beautiful but loyal, fearless, mischievous, and amazing. My favorites are the shiny object stealing Niffler; the horny Erumpent; and the regal Thunderbird.
I enjoyed the film but found the beginning confusing and difficult to understand Newt’s heavy accent. Once my ear caught up to the dialogue the story was clearer and I was caught up in the magic.
This is not Harry Potter and may be too mature for young-er children. The sequels are in the works so I’m getting ready for many more years of Wizards, Beasts, and Magic.
SPEND THE MONEY and see FANTASTIC BEASTS AND WHERE TO FIND THEM in the theater.
Until next time, keep your EYE to the sky