The official poster for Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them which was released November 18, 2016.
The number one critique most hardcore Potterheads make after seeing a Harry Potter movie is how it compares to the book. However, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is the first Wizarding World movie without a book counterpart. Even though it is not based on a book, Rowling added new aspects to her world that can be seen throughout the movie.
Fantastic Beasts is not centered around Harry Potter, rather we’re introduced to Newt Scamander, a disgraced Hufflepuff, world traveler, and magical creatures specialist. Scamander is a lovable, gentle, and socially awkward addition to the universe, which sets him apart from the brash and popular Harry Potter. A major difference between the original series and Fantastic Beasts is that Harry Potter was as much of a fantasy hero’s journey tale as it was a coming-of-age story. However all the main characters of Fantastic Beasts are adults, taking away the maturation element.
Scamander’s story is set several years before the events of Harry Potter. In fact, one may remember Scamander’s name from the book series, as he was the author of one of Harry Potter’s textbooks. Although Scamander himself is British and a Hogwarts alumni, his adventures take place on his visit to New York City where he meets Jacob Kowalski, a good natured war vet who loves to bake and has no magic, but helps him on his adventures. The Goldstein sisters, Queenie, a kind, flirtatious witch with a talent for reading thoughts, and Tina, a determined former auror who prioritizes justice, also help Scamander on his quest.
Since Fantastic Beasts takes place in the United States, Rowling had unique challenge. The Harry Potter franchise is known for the extensive details about the world, however Rowling is explicit in saying that these rules and customs only apply to the British Wizarding World. Rowling had to craft an entirely new reality for Fantastic Beasts without the foundation of supporting books. She was able to achieve this mostly in her Pottermore website, where this summer, she began releasing information about the American Wizarding World, such as their terms, such as No-Maj for muggles, and their very own wizarding school, Ilvermony, complete with unique houses.
In addition to information about the American Wizarding World, Rowling also added details to the movie about magic that were unknown before. For example, the character Queenie is a Legilimens, a mind reader. Although there are Legilimens characters in the original story, notably Voldemort, Fantastic Beasts goes into the power further. The idea of shedding light on unexplained Harry Potter phenomena also applies with the introduction of Obscura, deadly parasites that latch onto children who know about their wizarding powers but refuse to use them.
Despite these revelations that help explain the earlier books, the greatest displays of
Rowling’s imagination are the magical creatures. From a the disappearing sloth-like psychic known as the Demiguise to the Bowtruckle, a tiny green figure who can pick locks. Rowling’s “fantastic” beasts are one of the main highlights of the movie, although Rowling’s larger than life beasts are not done justice in description.
Fantastic Beasts is not the first instance of a 2016 Harry Potter revival. This past summer, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, an adventurous play featuring the son of Harry Potter and his friends, was released. But unlike Cursed Child, Rowling was the main writer of the Fantastic Beasts screenplay. It seems as if Harry Potter fans prefer Rowling’s writing, because while reviews for Cursed Child were mixed, Fantastic Beasts opinions were highly favorable. Many are saying this is their favorite Harry Potter universe movie, which may partially be attributed to its audacious originality. Fantastic Beasts manages to keep the original charm of Wizarding World even despite its vast changes from the original stories that its fans love.
Photo Credits: Warner Bros