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Fantastic movies and where to find them

New Harry Potter installment enchants audience

The+latest+installment+in+J.K.+Rowling%27s+wizarding+world+was+released+in+theaters+Nov.++18.
The latest installment in J.K. Rowling's wizarding world was released in theaters Nov.  18.

The latest installment in J.K. Rowling's wizarding world was released in theaters Nov. 18.

Callie Boren

Callie Boren

The latest installment in J.K. Rowling's wizarding world was released in theaters Nov. 18.

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The familiar score echoed through the room as one of the most recognizable fonts filled the screen. One nostalgic cinematic element after another whisked the audience away into the world so many desperately longed to claim as their own, all in the opening seconds of “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.”

The recently released David Yates film, created by J.K. Rowling, takes place in the “Harry Potter” universe nearly a century before Harry’s story. Although every cinematic element of the film echoed the success of the previous Potter films, the substance beneath the story was lacking.

“Fantastic Beasts” tells a story almost a century prior to that of Harry, introducing an entirely new cast of characters and an entirely separate conflict. Potter fans may recall some details mentioned in passing, such as antagonist Gellert Grindelwald and the students’ textbook, “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.”

As the story goes, the book was written by former Hogwarts student Newt Scamander, an intellectual and curious man with a fascination and love for magical creatures. Scamander travels around the world rescuing endangered magical creatures and returning them to safer homes after studying them for his book. The process seems to work until Scamander brings his enchanted case of creatures to New York City, falling upon a country in a magical conflict of its own.

Oscar and Golden Globe winning actor Eddie Redmayne portrays Scamander alongside Katherine Waterston as Porpentina Goldstein, Colin Farrell as Percival Graves, Ezra Miller as Credence, Dan Fogler as Jacob Kowalski and Alison Sudol as Queenie Goldstein. Besides Redmayne, who played the rather complex role of Scamander as well as could be expected, other performances of note include Fogler and Sudol. Fogler played the role of Kowalski, the no-maj (or Muggle, as the British say) who falls into the wizarding world after picking up the wrong case. Whether the creators intended it or not, Kowalski stole the show as the most complex character. Sudol’s character Queenie Goldstein, on the other hand, offered the film continuous comic relief while also embodying the unlikely hero.

If this movie is seen by any as an installment in the Harry Potter universe, it falls dramatically short of expectations.”

— Callie Boren

The visual effects were everything any modern movie-goer would expect them to be. The makeup artists, set designers and computer-generated imagery creators clearly demonstrated the same mastery over their fields viewers saw in the original eight “Harry Potter” films. In the modern reign of Marvel films, breaking New York City is an expectation for any protagonist who wants to put up a fight. In “Fantastic Beasts,” the final battle leaves New York flat, but the magical protagonists put it all back together. The magic of visual effects made the whole scene and the whole idea believable.

Cinematically speaking, “Fantastic Beasts” was a solid film. However, one must not forget the origins of the story. If this movie is seen by any as an installment in the Harry Potter universe, it falls dramatically short of expectations. Harry Potter’s story does not resonate among moviegoers for its all star acting or state of the art visual effects, but for the content and themes. Themes such as power, love and sacrifice echoed through legendary characters such as Voldemort, Harry, Dumbledore and Snape. The characters and story of “Fantastic Beasts” contained almost no substance in comparison.

Movie goers looking for an enjoyable cinematic experience certainly should not miss “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them,” but fans in search of a Harry Potter fix should probably just wait for the next TV marathon.

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Fantastic movies and where to find them