Fantastic Beasts Looks Pretty Beast

By  · Published on September 29th, 2016

The film’s final trailer paints an exquisite picture of a magical North America

Scamander emerges from his suitcase at the Magical Congress of the United States of America

Wow. Just wow. Every time I start to feel cynical about Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, the initial installment in Warner Brothers’ next trilogy from J.K. Rowling’s wizarding world, the studio manages to release footage that excites the boy whose first solo novel was Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. The film’s final trailer, which premiered this morning, is no different.

After devouring Harry Potter and the Cursed Child and decrying the problematic Illvermorny origin story this summer, I should have known something was coming when Pottermore debuted its Patronus quiz last week. It served as the perfect traffic booster before Warner Brothers debuted this trailer, rife with tantalizing hints about the movie’s plot and the most expansive depiction of the never-before-seen American wizarding world. Before discussing some of the creatures and features of this magical frontier, I will relay some information about the story and the characters it focuses on.

From left to right: Tina Goldstein, Newt Scamander, Queenie Goldstein, and Jacob Kowalski

Fresh off his stellar performance in last year’s The Danish Girl, Eddie Redmayne is back in a 1920s period piece as protagonist Newton “Newt” Scamander, author of the faux-historical text from which this film received its name. Hufflepuffs around the world will rejoice to discover that both Scamander and the actor who plays him belong to their house, finally giving their oft-underappreciated group the limelight it deserves. After a year in the field, Newt ends up plunging New York City into turmoil when he meets his partner-in-crime, Jacob Kowalski (Dan Fogler), a No-Maj (American for muggle) who instigates the events of the film by opening Newt’s case and releasing an array of magical animals to wreak havoc on an unsuspecting populace. Sisters Porpentina “Tina” (Katherine Waterston) and Queenie Goldstein (Alison Sudol) round out the film’s central foursome. Tina is a former Auror at MACUSA who was relegated to a menial job in the wand permit office after a confrontation with her superiors. Queenie works in the same office but is overwhelmed by her power of Legilmency. With the ability to hear peoples’ thoughts and greatest desires, Queenie struggles to filter out the abundance of information she encounters every day. Together, these four heroes confront the roaming beasts and the growing divide between No-Majs and the magical people of America.

I could go on and on about every detail from the film, so I will instead focus on the new revelations in this trailer. Before Scamander arrives in New York, the city is in strife. The trailer features the first words from Mary Lou Barebone (Samantha Morton), mother of Credence (Ezra Miller) and leader of the anti-magic Second Salemers. Her screams of “Witches live among us” highlight the growing tensions between the hidden MACUSA and the No-Majs of North America.

Her son, seen here with head Auror Percival Graves (Colin Farrell), seems to be more than meets the eye. Graves’ complaints that we’ve been “living in the shadows for too long” hints that Credence may have magical powers himself. His withdrawn, shy nature makes him susceptible to Graves’ influence. Though we know little else about his character, he is believed to play a large role in the future films.

The final two surprises of the new trailer are the beasts themselves and the mention of a classic Harry Potter foe. Previous trailers featured six of the movie’s creatures, but this one provided more footage of them and sightings of three new beasts. The Nundus is a “perilous gigantic leopard, whose breath is fatal”.

It also features a parent and child pairing of Graphorns, horned beasts with humped backs that are sometimes ridden by Mountain trolls.

The last new creature is shown chasing after Jacob. The Erumpent, a rhinoceros-like animal with “explosive properties”, puts the No-Maj in a perilous situation. I’m sure one of the other heroes will find a way to rescue him in the movie.

Last, but not least, the trailer suggests that a well-renown character may appear or at least factor into the plot of the film. Seraphina Piquery (Carmen Ejogo), President of MACUSA, warns that the events of Fantastic Beasts may relate to Gellert Grindelwald’s anti-Muggle attacks in Europe. In the books, Grindelwald is the childhood friend and eventual lover of Albus Dumbledore, whose sister Ariana perished in the final confrontation between the paramours. His mention in the trailer suggests that he may be a central villain in the series, or that Dumbledore himself may appear in this or in future installments of the series. After all, Albus, born in 1881, was in his prime during the events of the film. Either way, these tidbits are some of the first hints at global state of affairs in the wizarding world, which are certain to play a role in this new trilogy.

If you’d like to know even more about the story, then check out Pottermore’s page on the movie and Collider’s reporting from its set visit earlier this year. They have fantastic interviews with members of the cast and far more information than I could include in this piece. Though this trailer only revealed a little more than previous ones, it presented the most thorough depiction of a magical North America yet and, boy, does it make me excited.

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them opens in theaters on November 18th.

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