We’re less than a few weeks away from the international release date for Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, the much-awaited spin-off production that will hit cinemas the world over in mid-November.
When news first came out that Oscar winner Eddie Redmayne would be picking up a wand and joining J.K. Rowling’s wizarding world in a prequel film to the Harry Potter instalments, the franchise’s fans were more than thrilled. Fast forward some months and Rowling admitted to having enough ideas in mind to produce a trilogy. It’s now been revealed that the U.S. based story will very probably be the start to a pentalogy (five-part story), with each feature-length film expanding on details mentioned in the Harry Potter books.
Image above: Eddie Redmayne
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them takes its name from a fictitious textbook written by Newt Scamander and used by Harry Potter and his wizard friends in school. Rowling subsequently published this textbook as a 42-page encyclopaedia of magical animals found in Potter’s parallel world. The film provides a brand new story set in 1926 for Newt, played by Redmayne, a British magizoologist who finds himself in a foreign country and with a gigantic problem. Some magical animals have escaped from his globetrotting briefcase and are now roaming the No-Maj (American for muggle) New York. Newt must not only find his charges before they wreck havoc and reveal their secret world, but also face the secret community of witches and wizards of this other continent, including the Director of Magical Security – Percival Graves – played by Colin Farrell. However, Newt’s biggest challenge of all is going to be getting the audience to like him.
How will fans react to a new face taking over the torch from The Boy Who Lived? After the hype surrounding Harry Potter, will Newt appear like a shadow when compared to the previous hero of the tale? Eddie Redmayne prepared himself well for the role, even spending time with zookeepers and animal handlers in order to better relate to the precious animals in his charge. Yet he can’t have thought to take on such a big role and not suffer the consequences. His character’s every move is going to be scrutinised and judged by begrudging fans. Will he hold his wand well? Can he recite spells as well as Hermione? Does the red hair signify he is related to the Weasleys? Yet Daniel Radcliffe seems jealous of Redmayne’s “brilliant” onscreen costume compared to Potter’s endless scenes in jeans.
The filmmakers are hoping to make a whole new franchise out of this one. But will Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them be able to stand on its own two feet? Or will it ride on the glory of its companions, only to be badly criticised and disappear without a trace? Its trailer promises action and a musical score to match those of its predecessor, and Redmayne’s chameleon tendencies will serve him well in getting the audience to believe him. Add to that, Rowling herself has written the script, which has been described as “breathtaking” by longtime Harry Potter producer David Heyman, who’s on board with this project together with David Yates, who directed the last four Harry Potter films. I’m personally hoping it will turn out as brilliantly as its stakeholders seem to think. After all, I wouldn’t mind having four more instalments to look forward to after this one.