Frightful Start for New Wizard Franchise

Alesandra Markovic, Staff Writer

With the release of the new fantasy flick, Fantastic Beast and Where to Find Them on November 18, the frenzied enthusiasm displayed for the Harry Potter series appears to have been reborn.

Fantastic Beasts is the start of a spin-off prequel series of five motion pictures directed by David Yates.  The film franchise is based on the book series J.K. Rowling’s Wizarding World, and this installment is based on J.K.Rowling’s book that she penned as Newt Scamander, the fictional main character.

Unlike the movies and books about Harry Potter, this series does not unfold chronologically. The story begins in the middle of the main character’s early adulthood, giving the fans who grew up with Harry Potter a chance to continue following someone their own age.

Fans of Harry Potter are used to British accents, Hogwarts school’s gothic exterior and catch phrases such as Ron Weasley’s “bloody hell”. Yet, Fantastic Beasts is set in New York during 1920s, and the only British accent comes from Newt Scamander, played by Oscar winning actor Eddie Redmayne. 

This kind of novelty puts off some people who fell in love with the old franchise, but the casting offers the new series potential. It consists of well-known actors: Colin Farrell (switched with Johnny Depp at the end) as the villain Percival Graves, Ron Perlman as goblin gangster Gnarlack, and Ezra Miller as Crudence Barebone. Mary Lou Barebone, who has adopted Barebone, is an extremist who wants to expose witches, is played by Samantha Morton.

At the beginning of the movie Hedwig’s Theme (the most famous opening of Harry Potter movies) blends into a new theme song. Waves of nostalgia were summoned with every mention of Hogwarts, Albus Dumbledore or a swing of a wand.

Scamander used to go to Hogwarts. He’s a magizoologist, which means that he studies magical creatures. The movie’s special effects brings them to life on the big screen.

Legilimens, a wizard with a magical skill of extracting other people’s memories from their minds is also introduced.

There’s no dodging the fact that Scamander is a Hufflepuff, which were trivial compared to members of the other three houses in Hogwarts.

Fantastic Beasts is quite scary. The New Salem Philanthropic Society led by Mary Lou Barebone is bent on exposing witches. Mary Lou adopts children with magic backgrounds and abuses them. She wants a New Salem filled with hatred and tyranny for witchcraft on the streets of New York. 

Another scary aspect is the Obscurus, a destructive dark force. It awakens in children with magical powers known as Obscurials, who’ve been put through mental and physical abuse. An Obscurial can’t control the Obscurus’ power and not one is known to survive past a 10th birthday, when both the child and the Obscurus vanish. 

There is also a mentioning of Leta Lestrange, a former Hogwarts student. 

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them already has worldwide box office earning of more than $507 million, according to the Box Office Mojo website. The opening weekend in the US earned more than 74 million. In the upcoming sequels, audiences will judge whether it is the equal of the older series from which it was inspired and if it will win over the wizarding world fans.