Harry Potter’s tale is over. Unwilling to let an epic franchise die, Warner Bros has turned to Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. Expanding on J.K.Rowling’s simple creature encyclopedia, the upcoming movie is set in 1920s New York. Fantastic Beasts is the first of a trilogy that follows the journey of a magizoologist obsessed with dangerous magical creatures.
Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them is both a spin-off and a prequel occurring within the Harry Potter universe. It centres on a book that’s featured in the Harry Potter series, as well as Newt Scamander, the writer of said book who attended Hogwarts during his youth well before Harry Potter arrived there.
Harry vs. Newt
What do Harry and Newt share in common? Sure, both protagonists are nerdy and both film series’ involve the cultural battle between No-Maj’s (Muggles) and wizards. But, Newt has to deal with a monster invasion in New York, not win some Triwizard championship.
Much of the appeal behind Harry Potter came from the nostalgic fantasy of attending a boarding school in Britain, where cold showers and regular maltreatment were replaced with flying broomsticks and love potions. Judging from the trailer, the film looks like an independent, mature, original sci-fi/fantasy franchise. The supernatural world J.K. Rowling created is interesting, but not always well thought-out.
From Britain to America
Moving the action to America seems a strange fit. Often, U.S. magic controversially entwines with Native American culture. Wands are now a metaphor for guns and the villains are all Donald Trump-style bigots. This fictional universe may be stretched too far without losing what made it special in the first place. Hearing those spells in an American accent seems a little awkward and the term “No-Maj” is a little hard to digest too. J.K. Rowling’s exploration of the tension between the magical community and Muggles might lead to monotony.
Our swashbuckling young wizard Newt Scamander looks unusual and likable, and his love for supernatural creatures sounds exciting. It appears that Newt was “expelled” from his country and has stepped into the U.S with an interesting mission. However, that pesky, wonky suitcase is the centre of attraction, and is something that’s going to play a major part in the movie.
Solo Hero or Army of Many
What made Harry Potter a highly successful book franchise were the brilliant protagonists and the relationship between them. Harry, Ron, and Hermione were ordinary and relatable, yet also capable of great things. That’s why this series of books made children excited to read again because they saw themselves in these characters. In this contemporary world where technology is a huge part of our lives, people everywhere fell in love with an ancient and magical place full of wonder, funny names, and the complications that come with technological advancement.
A Fantastic Buzz
Fantastic Beasts has succeeded in one respect — it has created a buzz among Potterheads around the world. Since this isn’t a book adaptation, people are curious to know what the plot could be. Let us hope that the movie doesn’t end up being more than another excuse to destroy New York. It needs to flesh out the world of Harry Potter without caving in and damaging the franchise.
Fantastic Beasts could be a fun blockbuster with a new and exciting take on the struggles of the wizarding world. The benchmark set by Harry Potter films, however, is going to be very difficult to match. On the bright side, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them topped the list of most anticipated movies of the fall by movie ticket site Fandango.
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