When I was a child I liked to imagine that stars were actually holes in the floor of another world. There were all kind of creatures living there: dragons, fire horses, and birds made of clouds. One day I decided to tell my teacher in the kindergarten. “Oh don’t be silly, girl. There are no other worlds out there,” she responded. So I stopped talking about it. As children, every branch is a magic wand or sword and inside every closet, under every couch, there is another world to be explored. Yet, gradually as we grow up our fantasy seems to shrink away. In fear of being ridiculed, we shove all those magical and unfathomable dimensions into the back of our mind. “You’re a grown-up now, so behave like one.” Have you ever heard that phrase? I have, many times in fact. And so we do, facing the world devoid of previous colour. We go to study, get a job, and live in the greyness of the “grown-up reality.”
But, even inside the world devoid of imagination, there are places where our fantasy can come out and play without being targeted. It comes back through invitation into the world created by another, be it settling with C. S. Lewis’ Narnia during a stormy evening, or watching the newest movie from J. K. Rowling, enveloped by the darkness of the cinema. That’s what Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is all about.
When young wizard Newt Scamander lands on the shores of the New World for the first time, nobody suspects this young, slightly aloof, British man is carrying a suitcase containing another world. Yet that’s exactly what Newt’s unassuming brown luggage hides in its depths. Saving and protecting mythical animals, Scamander sets off to the streets of New York to return one of the suitcase occupants back where he belongs. Little does he know that a small mishap with a cannery worker and muggle Jacob Kowalski will send the whole city into disarray and may threaten the mage community living in secrecy to be exposed to the world.
It’s been a very long time since I genuinely enjoyed a fantasy movie, the last one probably being The Lord of the Rings. Since then, there have been a few alright movies like 2007’s The Golden Compass or the first film of The Chronicles of Narnia. Never a particularly big fan of Harry Potter, J. K. Rowling always stood on the margins for me, and I thought of her in similar terms as I do about Stephanie Meyers and her Twilight Saga now: a woman who got lucky with her quick fanfiction story, taking away from classics like The NeverEnding Story and such.
But she proved me wrong. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them not only is very solid story-wise, it is mastered in the terms of touching upon every aspect you would expect from a fantastic tale and going beyond. From visuals that aren’t overdone, to a multifaceted script, to being a magical fairy tale taking you back into the times grandma’s broom was a magic staff. Furthermore, Rowling proved that it’s possible to transition from one main character to another, while keeping the same world gracefully.
Fantastic Beasts and where to Find Them definitely earned its place right up there with the 1984 The NeverEnding Story, because while watching it, I wasn’t a 21-year-old university student. I was that four-year-old girl that believed stars are peeping holes into different reality. Thank you, J.K. Rowling.