‘Fantastic Beasts’ brings the magic to America
December 2, 2016
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That’s the one word that sums up “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.” It’s a pretty basic description for a movie based on a series all about wizards and witches, but it’s the truth. The movie is original in its own but still has a touch of the “Harry Potter” series that so many have come to love.
In comparison to its eight predecessors, the main difference in “Fantastic Beasts” is the setting as it all takes place in New York, instead of Britain. I’ll admit, it was quite strange to hear an American accent in a Potter-based movie, but I got used to it. Also, there are no “muggles” or non-wizards in New York. Instead, the non-wizarding folk are called “nomajs,” meaning no magic, and to be honest, I really didn’t like that.
The movie does mention a few familiar faces, however. Hogwarts, the school of witchcraft and wizardry in Britain, is mentioned, along with Albus Dumbledore, headmaster at Hogwarts, and Gellert Grindelwald, an overlooming villain throughout the whole movie.
The characters are interesting and and make the production so good. The main protagonist, Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne), is shy yet charming. He’s horrible at making eye contact with anyone he’s talking to and has a weird twitch with his mouth, but he is very passionate about the work he is doing. Newt Scamander is also a good friend of Jacob Kowalski (Dan Fogler), a “nomaj.” The audience is supposed to think that Newt Scamander is a perfect hero before we get hints at some of his past, which is not 100% bright, to say the least. Tina Goldstein (Katherine Waterson) is an annoying employee for the Ministry of Magic in New York, and her sister, Queenie (Fine Frenzy), is ditsy, yet adds a bit of comedy into the movie.
Personally, Ezra Miller’s performance was my favorite in the movie. He plays an orphaned teen whose life is absolutely miserable. Through his acting, I can feel his everyday pain. He is also a “squib,” a person of magic background . However, he can’t perform any magic himself. He is discriminated against by “nomajs,” and wizards, so nothing is going well for him.
The special effects are the most impressive factor of the whole movie. Director David Yates used every bit of his $180 million budget, and it was well worth it. Newt’s fantastic beasts are the best animations though. There are invisible beasts, flying beasts, and sly beasts, just to name a few. Oh, and there’s a giant dung beetle and a fortune-telling sloth/monkey/owl.
Taking a deeper look into the movie, “Fantastic Beasts” actually has some deep themes that go beyond the magic that makes the movie entertaining. The film touches on how people today can be very cruel. At one point, Newt Scamander says, “They are surrounded by thousands of the most violent creatures in the world – humans.”
However, there is some good lodged deep in this film. Throughout the whole movie, Newt is working to protect these beasts that everyone else wants to exterminate and seeks to protect a child who he knows is in danger of being killed. The movie puts together a team of misfits to show that even the unexpected can accomplish great things. This team is comprised of a Hogwarts delinquant, a ditsy blonde, an overweight factory worker, and a woman who is not respected by any means at her job and has no voice in anything. Yet despite what they are labeled as, they still manage to save the day. Finally, the movie teaches us that the underestimated can be immensely powerful.
“Fantastic Beasts” was an incredible ride from start to finish, and I would not hesitate to spend $12.50 on a ticket to see it again.
Daniel Robinson is a General Staff member for The Patriot and jcpatriot.com.