Rekindling the magic of Harry Potter’s world
Eddie Redmayne continues his quest to unseat Mr Cumberbatch as “that British actor you see bloody everywhere” with this adaptation of JK Rowling’s titular book. The original tome, a bestiary of magical creatures used by Harry Potter at Hogwarts, was written by a wizard named Newt Scamander in 1927 and detailed the creatures he’d studied in his world travels. The film, written by Rowling and directed by Potter veteran David Yates, shows us what Redmayne’s Scamander actually got up to when he wasn’t scribbling down important factoids about Fwoopers and Puffskeins.
However, the biggest twist comes with the setting. After eight movies set in the British school system, the action has moved across the pond to Prohibition-era New York – the first time Rowling’s world has visited our American cousins. Indeed, given her books’ popularity worldwide, it miffed many readers that so little was mentioned about other nations: magic wasn’t exclusively a European thing, after all.
Fantastic Beasts gives us the chance to find out how wizards and witches are treated elsewhere – Rowling even posted a magical history of North America on her Pottermore site to get us ready for the film. (And yes, there were real witches burned at Salem...)
So the lure of Fantastic Beasts is the chance to follow a British wizard (plus his mysterious, creature-filled briefcase) to the USA and make the Potter brand even bigger. The magical community he meets there include Jon Voight, Ron Perlman and Ezra Miller – and given Scamander’s globe-trotting, if this is a hit there could be many more movie travelogues to come.
Shifting luggage around has never been more thrilling.