Has JK Rowling been taking divination lessons at Hogwarts? With spooky clairvoyance, the first movie in her new five-film wizarding franchise opens with two factions in America at each other’s throats. No, not Republicans and Democrats. It’s 1926, and wizards and ‘no majs’ are on the brink of civil war.
Is 'Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them' a Harry Potter prequel?
No. It’s time to rub that lightning bolt off your forehead. ‘Fantastic Beasts’ is not a direct Harry Potter sequel, spin-off or prequel. It’s a new story, set in the wizarding world inhabited by Harry Potter, but several decades earlier in 1920s New York. ‘The laws and customs of the hidden magical society will be familiar to anyone who has read the “Harry Potter” books,’ says Rowling. But that’s it.
So Daniel Radcliffe isn't in it?
Sorry, no. Radders isn’t part of the ‘Fantastic Beasts’ movie. Although we might see a familiar face or two. ‘You will hear mention of your favourite characters and you may even meet their younger counterparts along the way,’ teased one of the film’s stars Dan Fogler.
Did JK Rowling write 'Fantastic Beasts'?
She did indeed. ‘Beasts’ is Rowling’s first foray into the world of screenwriting. She served as a producer on the seventh and eighth Potter films, but for ‘Fantastic Beasts’ she’s penned all the cinematic action herself. ‘An idea took shape that I couldn’t dislodge,’ she said when the project was first announced. ‘That is how I ended up pitching my own idea for a film to Warner Bros. I always said that I would only revisit the wizarding world if I had an idea that I was really excited about, and this is it.’
So it’s not based on a book?
Well, it kind of is actually. ‘Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them’ is a textbook that first-year Hogwarts students are instructed to buy and study. The book was written by magizoologist Newt Scamander – and this new movie is his story.
If there’s no Daniel Radcliffe, who stars?
Oscar-winner Eddie Redmayne has taken on the role of Newt Scamander, the future author of ‘Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them’. The 34-year-old star was called a ‘fearless actor, brimming with invention, wit and humanity,’ by director David Yates when his casting was announced.
American actress Katherine Waterston plays Porpentina Goldstein, an American witch working for the Magical Congress of the United States of America in a job well below her abilities. Alison Sudol stars as her sister Queenie. She’s a Legilimens, which means she has the ability to read feelings and memories from someone’s mind. Cool, huh?
Other famous faces making appearances include Gemma Chan, Zoe Kravitz, Ron Perlman, Jon Voight, Ezra Miller, Samantha Morton and Colin Farrell. Oh and we can’t forget the aforementioned Dan Fogler. He stars as Jacob Kowalski, a No-Maj who Newt meets upon arrival in New York City. He has a very important part to play in the story.
Sorry, erm, what the Merlin’s beard is a no-maj?
Ah. That’s American for Muggle. In the UK, we say Muggle, they say No-Maj. Pronounced: ‘no-madge’.
And what’s the story?
Newt arrives in New York City for a brief stopover with a magical suitcase packed full of dangerous creatures that escape into the city, which apparently ‘could spell trouble for both the wizarding and No-Maj worlds’.
What are these fantastic beasts then?
Presumably Warner Bros are holding some impressive beasties back, but we know we can expect Nifflers, Occamies, Demiguises, Billywigs, Bowtruckles, Thunderbirds and something called Swooping Evil.
What’s the deal with magic in America?
Well, it’s a little different. American witches and wizards exist ‘under a greater degree of secrecy than their European counterparts,’ reveals Rowling. There is also strict segregation between the No-Maj and wizarding communities. Magic folk aren’t allowed to befriend or marry No-Majs.
Do they have Hogwarts?
North America’s wizarding school is called Ilvermorny. Like Hogwarts, it has four houses – Thunderbird, Wampus, Horned Serpent and Pukwudgie.
Does ‘Fantastic Beasts’ have a sequel?
More? Already? Okay then, yes, ‘Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them’ will indeed have a sequel. A magical trilogy of ‘megamovies’ is in the works according to Warner Bros CEO Kevin Tsujihara.
When can I watch it?
‘Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them’ will be in Malaysian cinemas November 17.
Can I watch a trailer?
You can indeed. Here’s the most recent trailer!