COLUMN: 'Fantastic Beasts' is not a return to Hogwarts
After 19 years, seven books, eight movies and a Broadway show, J.K. Rowling's generation-shaping story about the boy who lived has come to an end, but the world she created in the most popular fantasy series still has untold stories.
This Friday, the wizarding world of Harry Potter will return to screens with a fresh new set of characters and adventures in "Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them."
After following the news about this film and reading countless reviews, I have accepted that Rowling's new fantasy series is a change of pace from the Harry Potter franchise. It is aimed at an older audience and has a brand new cast.
Though I don't think "Fantastic Beasts" could ever live up to her first set of stories, it's a good way to continue the magical world Rowling created because it doesn't overdo Potter's story. Instead of taking her audience through another hero's journey arc, Rowling wrote the script of a new tale set in a different era with timely conflicts.
Inspired by a textbook approved by Albus Dumbledore himself, the film is a not a return to Hogwarts. "Fantastic Beasts" previously existed as a book written by Newt Scamander in the Harry Potter world.
Rowling created the faux manual in real life in 2001. With those guidelines, she will reportedly write at least five movies.
The spinoff series tells the story of a British "magizoologist" Newt Scamander, played by Eddie Redmayne, in 1920's New York, where he's doing research for his new book, "Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them" — a text Harry Potter would eventually get in his first year at Hogwarts.
The beast-wrangling wizard makes his way to New York City, where the conflict of the story is introduced with a suitcase mixup with a "No-Maj" — which is what Americans call "Muggles" — Jacob Kowalski, played by Dan Fogler. The mixup leads to several beasts escaping and running wild through the city.
While giving an audience a difference view of the wizarding world, "Fantastic Beasts" is an original story that doesn't require knowledge of the Harry Potter series.