I finally got a chance to watch Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, and I was so excited to dive into the wizarding world again. Now, I knew that this was going to be different than the other stories. It was set in America. And it followed Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne) instead of Harry, Hermione, Ron, and all the rest we came to know and love.
The American wizarding world is very different from that in Britain. It’s worth noting that Fantastic Beasts is earlier in the wizarding timeline – it happened during the time that Gellert Grindelwald was on his rise to power. In America, wizards attend Ilvermorny (not Hogwarts), and those without magic are called No-Majs (not Muggles).
The International Statute of Secrecy is just as important in America, but it’s also taken more seriously. The Statue of Secrecy was established just a year after the Salem Witch Trials happened, so you can see why the Magical Congress of the United States of America (MACUSA) takes infractions seriously.
So when Newt arrives in New York with a suitcase full of magical creatures that manage to slip away, you can bet that his life gets turned upside down and he’s in serious trouble with the MACUSA.
When the MACUSA gets a hold of him, they’re asking what Newt knows about magic in America. His answer highlights the differences between the magical worlds.
“I do know a few things, actually. I know you have rather backwards laws about relations with non-magic people. That you’re not meant to befriend them, that you can’t marry them, which seems mildly absurd to me.”
But Newt blatantly ignores this law and becomes friends with a Muggle – Jacob Kowalski (Dan Fogler), who gets involved because of an accidental suitcase-switch and then joins Newt on all sorts of crazy adventures.
Just like in Harry Potter, the majority of non-magical folk have no clue that there’s such a thing as the wizarding world. But there’s some No-Majs in this world that are convinced that it exists. They call themselves the “Second Salemers,” and they’re quite strict in their practices. They’re just as prejudiced against wizard as the wizards are against the No-Majs.
And everyone, really, doesn’t like the magical creatures. Except Newt. And how could he not when his name sounds like two different kinds of lizards?
Newt’s just a really lovable guy who truly cares about others – be they wizards, muggles, or magical creatures. And that’s why he’s researching magical creatures for a book. He wants others to know about the creatures and what they’re really like.
I loved Eddie Redmayne as Newt. Redmayne was perfect – and now I just really want him to play the Doctor on Doctor Who (can that please be a thing?). He and Fogler had great chemistry together, and I enjoyed his interactions with the rest of the characters.
And Newt had my favorite line in the film: “My philosophy is if you worry, you suffer twice.” Which is so true! Some worrying can be productive, but worrying often just takes precious energy and time that could be spent doing other things. And what are you worrying about? Something that may never happen, or something that if it happens will make you sad and thus you’re just doubling the sorrow.
Overall, I enjoyed Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. Going into it, I knew that it wouldn’t be different from Harry Potter, but it still captured some of the same feeling. Fantastic Beasts still has the magic, but it feels more grounded since it’s set in New York instead of whisking you away to Hogwarts. I’m intrigued to see where the series goes next.
Have you seen Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them? If so, what did you think of it?