Rekin­dling the magic of Harry Pot­ter’s world

SFX: The Sci-Fi and Fantasy Magazine - - Front page - Jayne Nel­son

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.

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