Is it possible to create a satisfying addition to a series as monumental as the Harry Potter series? Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, a story from the same wizarding world as Harry Potter but in 1926 New York, does just that while adding another layer of magic. Written by Harry Potter author JK Rowling, Fantastic Beasts follows a similar pattern as the original 8 movies—it starts off light-hearted and adventurous but quickly turns dark with a Voldemort-esque aura returning to the air. However, rather than trying to recreate Harry Potter’s world entirely, the new environment allows the audience to experience wizardry outside of school and in the “real world.”
The story begins when wizard Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne) steps off the boat in New York from his home in England. His journey is quickly sidetracked when some of the animals from his briefcase of magical creatures escape, and he accidentally exposes Jacob (Dan Fogler), to the wizarding world. The problem is that Jacob is a No-Maj, which we quickly learn is the American word for muggle. Newt struggles to find all of his creatures, but fortunately gets some help from Jacob the No-Maj, the auror Porpentina Goldstein (the magical police officer played by Katherine Waterston), and her sister Queenie (played by Alison Sudol). At the same time, Newt must also figure out crucial details about the largest wizarding issue of the time—the tension between wizards and their No-Maj counterparts.
Perhaps it is this subplot that makes Fantastic Beasts more than just your average action-adventure film. No-Majs becoming suspicious about the existence of wizards, mixed with the radical ideas of a dark wizard infiltrating the minds of many, creates nail-biting tension that tests Newt and his friends as well as the wizarding
world as a whole. To balance out the dark tone, Fantastic Beasts craftily introduces many adorable magical creatures that will win the hearts of adults and children alike. The sassy, tree-like bowtruckle; the majestic, gold-and-white Thunderbird; and many other creatures all play crucial parts in the plot while fascinating audience members with the masterful creativity and preciseness that went into their creation. As it digs deeper into the magical world we know and love, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is a must-see for any Harry Potter fan.