In recent weeks, we have been hit with so much publicity for Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them that it’s hard to believe the films release is still two months away. The main reasons behind the onslaught is that a new trailer was released at San Diego Comic-Con, followed by the film featuring on the cover of EW’s Fall Movie Guide, which gave us a whole lot of brand new information regarding the film and its characters. On top of that, the release of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child as a published script, along with the news that J.K. Rowling is already working on the screenplay for Fantastic Beasts 2, has ensured Muggles everywhere are talking about the Wizarding World once more.
To summarize: Fantastic Beasts follows Magizoologist Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne) as he enters New York in 1926 carrying a magical case full of wild beasts. The case is opened and the beasts escape, and Newt must recapture them all without arousing the suspicions of the very anti-Witchcraft NYC community.
We know that Newt finds support in the form of Queenie and Tina Goldstein, and Jacob Kowalski, and faces stern disapproval from Seraphina Picquery, head of the Magical Congress. However, the real threat for Newt, and indeed, the entire Wizarding community, comes from Mary-Lou Barebone, who runs the New Salem Philanthropic Society and is seeking death for all Witches and Wizards. Quite how Percival Graves (Colin Farrell), ties into all this remains to be seen, but we do know his character is the Director of Magical Security. He also looks to be quite a shady and dark character from the image released of him with Ezra Miller’s character, Credence.
EW have also released three more new images from the Fantastic Beasts movie set, with one seeming to show Newt being interrogated by Percival Graves. Redmayne and director David Yates have also been speaking to EW about the movie’s tone, and how it ties into modern day society.
Fantastic Beasts costar Alison Sudol previously talked about how Rowling has tapped into the pertinent issues that we as a society seem to be facing right now in the film; with global politics being so volatile and terrorism on the increase. Yates has affirmed that Rowling’s intention, when choosing the setting for the movie, was because she felt it tied in well to our current climate. Comparing the fear of Witchcraft and magic with the fear of religious extremism might seem a stretch, but they’re both the fear of an unknown entity, and in both cases, the actions of a few do not accurately represent the behavior of the many.
As Yates told EW (via E!Online) regarding life in Fantastic Beasts‘ version of 1920s New York:
“It feels like the world is on a precipice. Everyone’s a bit nervous. There are things happening that make everyone uncomfortable, and people have a choice to make about which side they want to stand on.”
So Fantastic Beasts deals with some complex issues, which makes for a much darker film than we first thought. Indeed, Redmayne says Fantastic Beasts is also an emotional film, so possibly similar in tone to the later Harry Potter films. Yates directed the final four films in that franchise, and all of them became noticeably darker as they went on, so could Fantastic Beasts take that one step further? Here’s what Redmayne says:
“There is a dark aspect to it; I think it’s going to be surprising how moving it is.”
In Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Parts 1 and 2), fans had to deal with the emotion surrounding the deaths of many well-loved characters, so that Harry could ultimately triumph over Voldemort. However, as an audience and also as readers of the books, we had come to know and love those characters over a long period of time. Will Rowling manage to elicit the same depth of emotion in Fantastic Beasts viewers with her first script? Knowing her pedigree, she probably can.
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them opens in U.S. theaters on November 18th, 2016, followed by Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them 2 on November 16th, 2018.