Even if this is the first you’ve heard of the upcoming Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, you probably aren’t too surprised to hear that the Harry Potter franchise is treating us to a new cinematic outing. There isn’t much to this new announcement trailer, but you’ll want to watch it before we begin our discussion.
If you’ve read the book, released in 2001, you know that it’s really just a fun, fictional encyclopedia with no actual story. This film seems to be setting Scamander on his journey to become the magizoologist who penned the book itself, and he might be a little inexperienced in the ways of the wand. A shot of him casting a spell near the end of the trailer indicates that his magical abilities might grow over the course of the film, as will inevitably his knowledge of magical creatures.
That’s not to say Scamander is completely inexperienced. We learn a bit about the plot from voiceover by Katherine Waterston, portraying Porpentina Goldstein as she stands before the Magical Congress of the United States of America. This film will take place in 1920s New York, a setting that we have not seen in the Harry Potter films before. The plot will involve the exploits of Scamander and Goldstein (Scamander’s future wife) as they attempt to capture the eponymous fantastic beasts and return them to Scamander’s magically-expanded suitcase. We can bet that, whatever Scamander knows of these beasts already, much of the knowledge in his book will be acquired as he hunts them through the streets of NYC.
Muggle relations will also play a major role. No-Majs (as they are called in the new film) are not great fans of the wizarding world. We do not see much of this in the trailer, but it might have something to do with Tina’s appearance before the Magical Congress. After all, the general population won’t be too thrilled with wizards when a horde of beasties is released in the Big Apple. Goldstein’s budding relationship with Scamander will put her in hot water, and she will probably be seeing something of a vocational paradigm shift (i.e. job loss) by the time the film is over.
Before you go making assumptions that this film has some sort of Satanist subplot, please note that the pentagram in that screenshot would be right-side up from Tina’s perspective. Don’t believe me? Here, I’ll show you.
There, just look near her feet. The symbol is likely being used for its Pagan/Wiccan roots, which is kind of a bold choice. The magic in this universe has always seemed to be more naturally-occurring, without much religious basis. Whether this pentagram affects the film or if it’s just a single design choice remains to be seen, but it could be interesting to see a new side of magic in this world. And since this takes place long before Harry’s parents were born, there’s even a chance we’ll see the entire landscape of the wizarding world change over the course of the film. We might see that magic used to be something different, and we may even witness the birth of the word “Muggle.”
Aside from Redmayne and Waterston, the film stars Alison Sudol as Queenie (Tina’s sister), Dan Fogler as a No-Maj named Jacob Kowalski (who releases the creatures to begin with), Samantha Morton as an anti-wizard extremist named Mary Lou, and Ezra Miller as Credence, Mary Lou’s adopted son who is believed to hide a mysterious (and likely important) secret. Colin Farrell, whose character unfortunately makes only a brief appearance in this trailer, will be playing Percival Graves. Aside from sharing his name with the villain of King Ralph, Graves will be acting in a possibly villainous role as he is sent by the magical community to apprehend Scamander. Jon Voight and Ron Perlman have also been cast in the film. Given these actors’ talents, you can probably bank on their characters playing some sort of important roles in the plot.
For now, we don’t get to see much of these secondary characters. Kowalski appears behind Scamander in one of the pictures above, and he’s clearly important to the movie since he appears to be carrying Scamander’s creature case. Aside from that, we just get an ominous look at Percival Graves standing in a partially destroyed building.
Again, not much happens in the trailer itself. Most of the above information has been around for a while. But even this small taste should have you excited for the next trailer, which will almost certainly give us more details. As for the beasts themselves, we’ll probably see a great many of them as more trailers are released over the next year. I’m excited to see them, but let’s hope they save some of the best for the big screen.
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is still in production, and is slated for release on November 18, 2016. It is meant to be the first film in a new trilogy, each film focusing on the relationship between Scamander and Goldstein as they hunt down new and exciting beasts.