In the Harry Potter universe, house Hufflepuff seems the least exciting. Hufflepuffs are slow, methodical, dedicated, patient and loyal. Astrologically, they are connected with Taurus, which gives them an earthy, sensual quality. They may lack the charisma of Gryffindor (Leo), but they are the backbone and the salt of the wizarding community. Unlike Slytherins or Gryffindors, Hufflepuffs are not overly ambitious or rebellious. They do not seek attention for attention’s sake. Yet they possess a certain quiet charm and dignity. And they are so immensely steadfast that, if need be, they will sacrifice themselves for their loved ones.
Newt Scamander, sorted into Hufflepuff, the main character of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, was born at the end of the nineteenth century. The temporal setting of the movie gives it a quaint, vintage aura, which agrees with Taurus as well since this sign loves the tangible, and puts slowness over speed. The name Newt is quite apt as well, evoking a tiny amphibian, not quite a frog, not quite a lizard, certainly not a dragon. But Hufflepuffs do not attach value judgements to life forms: a newt is as spectacular and miraculous as, say, a Peruvian Vipertooth. Newt’s job as a magizoologist involves the study of magical creatures, protecting them indiscriminately and spreading knowledge about them.
Perhaps like a newt, Newt Scamander seems rather inconspicuous as the movie begins. The action develops rather slowly; the plot is rather predictable. Any danger the characters get themselves in is quite small compared to what was faced by the characters in the previous Harry Potter movies. For me the main strength of the vie is its undeniable charm. New York of the early twentieth century seems so warm and comforting; it envelops the viewer like the Hobbiton village. The magical creatures on the loose are just cute and harmless, with the magnificent Niffler (a beast with an uncontrollable urge to touch sparkling objects) as an ultimate Taurean character.
The non-magical Polish wannabe baker is a kind-hearted, adorable man – nothing like the evil muggles of the Harry Potter universe. This focus on food, warmth and coziness has a very heartwarming effect on the viewer. Comfortingly so, anything that gets destroyed throughout the movie, is rebuilt and repaired at the end at the touch of a magic wand. This is quite refreshing when juxtaposed with the usual action movies relish in showing mayhem, destruction and their eerie aftermath.
All in all, I would give the movie 5/5. A real highlight is Colin Farrel’s performance as a villain. The only drawback is that he will not be coming back in the upcoming instalments.