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Movie review: ‘Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them’

J.K Rowling’s “Harry Potter” series was my introduction to fiction, so, naturally, anything associated with Rowling’s magical world carries with it a sense of nostalgia. Of course, when I heard Rowling was making her screenwriting debut with “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them,” I knew I had to watch it, if not purely for emotional value.

Being a fan of the original series, I had my doubts about “Fantastic Beasts,” but these doubts were expelled as the film went on. I walked out of the theater amazed by the whimsical characters, enthralled by the complex plot line, and moved nearly to tears.

Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne) is a British wizard who aspires to change the wizarding world’s view on magical creatures by collecting and documenting them. However, upon traveling to a very troubled New York, Scamander misplaces his briefcase, which contains many of his documented magical creatures, and, after many of his beasts escape, he is detained by the Magical Congress of the United States of America as the instigator of the chaos in New York. With the help of a No-Maj (also known as a Muggle, played by Dan Fogler) and a former Auror (Katherine Waterston) and her sister (Alison Sudol), Scamander sets out to prove his innocence to the Magical Congress.

Meanwhile, strange events are taking place in the streets of New York, and a new, evil magic is to blame. In addition, the dark magician Gellert Grindelwald is widely believed to be responsible for these incidents, yet he has vanished without a trace. While searching for the lost creatures, Scamander and his companions become involved in the search for the dark forces, but soon find themselves facing a power greater than they previously imagined and the possible exposure of the wizarding world.

One of the features that stood out to me in this film was the special effects. The magical beasts were beautifully depicted, as well as the scenery surrounding them. I also admired the portrayal of magic: be it an epic wand duel or a simple “Accio” spell, I thought the wizardry was smooth and believable. Although the movie could be a little slow, I thought these effects made up for any lagging in the pace.

Overall, I think that this movie can appeal to anyone, from a veteran J.K Rowling fan like me to someone who has never read a “Harry Potter” book. Although it contains many elements of Harry’s world, it also reveals a fresh perspective on the magical world and its inhabitants. And, as Rowling has already announced a second movie, I eagerly await its arrival. Until then, we Muggles must make do with this glimpse into the world of magic.

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