By Casey Noenickx
For the Mitzpeh

J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter prequel Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them hit theaters on Nov. 18, just in time to watch the fantasy over winter break.  

The film takes place in the 1920s, well before Harry Potter is born and features Eddie Redmayne as Newt Scamander, a British wizard doing research in America. Scamander brings along a suitcase filled with magical creatures. Some of the beasts escape and it is up to him to collect them before they are harmed.

Scamander meets an American wizard named Tina, played by Katherine Waterston. She turns him in to the Magical Congress of the United States of America for being an unregistered wizard and endangering humans with his magical creatures. In the end, though, they fight together to save New York City from a dangerous magical creature.

Junior journalism major Abby Wallisch liked how the animation and graphics used for the magical creatures in the film made the movie feel more realistic. Wallisch enjoyed feeling like she was back in the wizarding world, she said.

“I also really liked watching [Redmayne] hang out with all the different mystical animals. Even if he didn’t actually get to do that, he can look back on it and feel like he actually met those characters,” she said. “I wish I had a video of me playing with different animals.”

Photo taken from the public domain, through Vimeo.
Photo taken from the public domain, through Vimeo.

For Harry Potter fans, the prequel was a relevant addition to the famous series, sophomore communications major Caitlin Lane said. It tied in plot lines used as background information from the original series, specifically, the rise of the dark wizard Grindelwald before Voldemort gained power.

“It was better than I expected because a lot of times a spinoff or sequel doesn’t live up to the hype of the original movies,” Lane said. “I also liked how it had enough references to the original movies that it was fun to see it as a fan of the Harry Potter series, but it also didn’t alienate people that have never seen the movies before.”

The movie is the backstory of the author of a textbook in the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling. She wrote the screenplay for the movie. David Yates, who also directed the final four Harry Potter movies, directed the film, giving the spinoff movie a similar feel to the original series.

However, some students still felt too strong of a disconnect between the movies, Jordan Babin, a sophomore behavioral and community health major, said.

“It was disappointing that there weren’t any characters from the other movies in Fantastic Beasts,” she said.

But Babin said she wasn’t completely let down. “I liked how it was in the same world as Harry Potter, and I like that it allowed us to see something new from J.K. Rowling without ruining the stories already written,” she said.


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