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‘Fantastic Beasts’ continues the Harry Potter magic

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Image by Sarah Baker.

Image by Sarah Baker.

Sarah Baker

Sarah Baker

Image by Sarah Baker.

Story by Sarah Baker, Editor

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Upon hearing the news that J.K. Rowling was finished writing Harry Potter books – at least for now – many Potterheads’ (self-proclaimed huge HP fans) began to mourn the end of the series that had such an important role in their childhoods.

But all hope was not lost. With the announcement of a Harry Potter spin-off movie series with screenplays written by Rowling herself, Potterheads could barely hold in their excitement. Fans are also excited to hear that David Yates is directing – Yates directed the latter half of the Harry Potter franchise and has been praised for that work.

Living up to the hype, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them does not disappoint.

With a Rotten Tomatoes score of 85 percent by movie-goers and 76 percent by critics (making it “certified fresh”), the film has been positively received. Critics expect that its connection with the Harry Potter franchise will draw in movie-goers, evident by its opening weekend box office sales of $75 million.

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is a companion book by the same name released by J.K. Rowling in 2001 that was formatted like a textbook and written by the fictitious Newt Scamander. The film adaption has the magic of Harry Potter but is still something all its own.

Set in the Muggle (non-magic) world, Fantastic Beasts offers us new elements previously not seen or read in previous Harry Potter incarnations. For one, the setting is America, New York to be exact, in the 1920s.

When Newt Scamander arrives in New York City with his case of magical creatures on a quest to return a creature to its ideal habitat, he runs into some obstacles. A few beasts escape from his case and wreak havoc in the city, which at this time is experiencing increased anti-magic sentiment.

One of the elements from Fantastic Beasts that carries the Harry Potter magic is the sweetness of the main characters. The four main characters all have an air of innocence, sweetness and gentleness about them – reminiscent of the three 11-year-olds we fell in love with more than a decade ago. Newt would also be a person PETA would be proud of given his love for his creatures and his passion for their protection.

The film does have some pacing issues and difficulties in balancing a few different plot lines, but overall the Fantastic Beasts does a good job of setting up its own series without being too heavy (four more sequels are in the works). The film is simple for non-Potterheads to follow and does not hit the audience over the head with backstory.

One big surprise in this film, however, was a special cameo by an-actor-who-will-not-be-named. If you are a Potterhead who has seen it, you know to whom that is referring.

And when it comes to the beasts, the CGI and conceptual designs are wonderful. They offer animals we recognize while remaining magically unique to the world of Harry Potter.

Overall, Fantastic Beasts is, if you’ll excuse the pun, fantastic. For fans of the Harry Potter series, Fantastic Beasts offers another world within the Potterverse to continue the obession with the much beloved wizarding world.

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