"Marred by Some Strong Occult, Anti-Biblical Material"
What You Need To Know:
FANTASTIC BEASTS is a beautifully photographed, scored and performed entertaining. However, a witch hunter is a major villain, and there are some abhorrent occult elements. Also, the redemptive hero actually fails to solve one major plot problem. There’s no foul language or similar graphic objectionable content. Some of the action and physical destruction is intense and scary, but often on the lighter side. The magical creatures are more cute than frightening. Regrettably, FANTASTIC BEASTS excessively promotes the occult and refutes the good.
(PaPa, OO, EE, BB, ACAC, C, PCPC, AbAb, VV, A, M) Strong, slightly mixed, pagan worldview set in an occult world of magical people, magical creatures and witchcraft, with some animal rights environmentalism that doesn’t get really political, mitigated by some strong moral elements promoting compassion, friendship, kindness, working together, truth, good against evil, and justice, some strong anti-totalitarian sentiments because the heroes must stop a villain, who wants to autocratically rule over others by using dark magic, a light redemptive element where the hero offers redemption to a troubled, victimized villain if he’ll only repent and stop using his powers and anger to destroy things and endanger people, but the hero fails, and some strong politically correct, anti-biblical elements where a witch hunter and mean-spirited opponent to witchcraft and witches is seen as an abuser, who’s been beating an older child under her care and unjustly “repressing” the free expression of his magical powers; no foul language; some strong action violence includes invisible creatures wreck buildings, a young person able to conjure dark magical powers is really destructive and kills two people (one adult person had a history of beating him as a child and teenager while another one viciously called him a “freak”), while wrecking buildings and a subway tunnel, people use magical wands to attack the villains with magical energy, man punches an elf, windows are accidentally broken in pursuing an escaped magical creature, a swirling black mass looking like dirty water sweeps across a subway tunnel, and man and woman fall from a height, and their skin looks wrinkly and gray like a corpse, which they have become; no sex; no nudity; some alcohol use and one alcohol drink has a magical property that makes you happily giggle one time after you swig it; no smoking; and, magical creature steals coins and jewelry but is captured twice and deprived of its loot, villain wants to gain special powers to rule others, magical society magically removes people’s memories to keep their society secret (they fear a war will break out if they’re exposed), an immoral death sentence is handed out, but the two people escape to make things right, and revenge but it’s implicitly rebuked.
FANTASTIC BEASTS AND WHERE TO FIND THEM is a fantasy adventure about a sorcerer and caretaker of magical creatures from England, who comes to New York in 1926 and creates all sorts of havoc during an outbreak of dark magic in the city. A prequel to the HARRY POTTER books and movies, FANTASTIC BEASTS is an entertaining ride that’s beautifully photographed and scored. However, a witch hunter is a major villain, and the hero actually fails in solving one of the movie’s three major plot problems at the end.
The movie opens with Newt Scamander getting off the boat from England and arriving in New York City. As he walks into the city from the pier, a small magical creature that looks like a cute platypus escapes from Newt’s mysterious suitcase. The creature starts taking coins and jewelry from the people they pass, and Newt tries to chase it down to put it back into the suitcase.
Unfortunately, the creature enters a bank and starts secretly taking people’s money. Sooner or later, it’s bound to get to the vault.
While trying to capture the creature in the bank, Newt gets some unexpected help from a kindly non-magical person named Jacob Kowalski. The bank just turned down Jacob’s loan to build a bakery using his beloved grandmother’s recipes. The loan officer didn’t even want to taste any of the samples in Jacob’s suitcase, which looks exactly like Newt’s magical suitcase.
Newt and Jacob eventually track down the creature in the vault, and Newt manages to put the creature back into the suitcase after emptying its magical pouch of all the loot it’s taken. However, the police arrive just in time to see Newt and Jacob covered in money and jewelry. So, Newt uses his magical wand to transport himself and Jacob outside the bank.
Just at that moment, a young woman, named Tina, who’s been following Newt, shows up. She says she’s an investigator from the national magical police force policing magical crimes by wizards and witches. She arrests Newt and Jacob for letting a magical creature loose in the city. While taking Newt and Jacob to headquarters, Jacob manages to escape with his suitcase.
At the headquarters for the Magical Congress of the United States, Newt tries to explain that he’s become a caretaker for magical creatures. He’s trying to understand the creatures rather than kill them, he says. To explain his activities further, he opens his suitcase, only to find samples of Jacob’s baked goods. Obviously, in all the confusion at the bank, Jacob accidentally picked up Newt’s suitcase and vice versa.
Tina’s boss, the Director of Magical Security Percival Graves, and the Magical Congress are not amused. In fact, Newt learns Graves had actually fired Tina, so her arrest of him wasn’t sanctioned. The Congress sentences Newt and Tina to death for treason, for threatening to expose the magical world of witches and wizards to the non-magical world. The Congress fears a war would start if the non-magical humans discovered there were wizards and witches among them.
Indeed, there’s a stern woman in the city trying to warn the humans that there are witches among them. Mary Lou wants the humans to eradicate the witches and wizards. She also runs an orphanage and uses the children to pass out her pamphlets. She calls her tiny organization the “New Salemers.”
Newt and Tina manage to escape from the execution room and rush to Jacob’s apartment, where two of Newt’s creatures have escaped Newt’s suitcase and destroyed Jacob’s wall leading to the outside. Also, Jacob has been bitten by one of the creatures. So, Newt and Tina take Jacob to Tina’s apartment, where they meet Tina’s sister, Queenie, a flirtatious young mind reader who becomes smitten with Jacob.
Newt enlists the help of Jacob in capturing the two magical creatures that escaped from his suitcase, including the platypus creature. He introduces Jacob to the world inside his briefcase, which is much, much bigger than the outside and contains multiple landscapes full of magical creatures Newt is studying, befriending and even feeding.
As Newt and Jacob round up the creatures, Tina and Queenie come to help them in their mission. That mission brings them all on a collision course with dark forces that could lead to war between the wizarding world and the humans.
FANTASTIC BEASTS AND WHERE TO FIND THEM is highly entertaining. The production values seem even higher than the previous movies set in the world of Harry Potter, including the cinematography, special effects and the score by James Newton Howard. That said, some of the explanations of the magical world, including the names of the creatures and the explanations of their powers, get lost in the quirky performance of Eddie Redmayne as Newt and in the magical jargon that Harry Potter creator and FANTASTIC BEASTS screenwriter J.K. Rowling uses.
In the story, Newt is like a magical animal rights activist. He believes the magical world should try to understand and protect the magical beasts, not kill them. Despite this environmentalist subtext, Newt’s motives are good. He also thinks the magical authority’s rules against involvement with non-magical humans are wrong headed. In fact, he thinks the magical humans can be friends with the “Non-Majes.” Thus, he happily becomes fast friends with Jacob, as do Tina and Queenie.
MOVIEGUIDE®’s reviewer enjoyed the performances of Dan Fogler as Jacob and Alison Sudol as Queenie the best. They bring humor and lighthearted energy to the story, as well as a fun romantic angle. What most impressed MOVIEGUIDE® about Eddie Redmayne’s performance as Newt Scamander was the human compassion he brings to the role. In fact, his performance adds a redemptive note during the movie’s climax.
Eventually, it turns out that Percival Graves believes wizards and witches should rule over the non-magical humans. He wants to use dark magic to lead a movement to do just that. His plan involves using one of Mary Lou’s orphaned children, who turns out to be a very powerful wizard who‘s been cowed and beaten by her.
This sets up a moral conflict between how Graves perceives the world and how Newt perceives the world. Newt favors compassion, but Graves favors selfish power and fame.
Like the other movies set in the HARRY POTTER world, FANTASTIC BEASTS AND WHERE YOU FIND THEM has a pagan worldview promoting witchcraft. As such, the new movie overtly portrays opposition to witchcraft and the occult, as symbolized by the Mary Lou character, as evil. This contradicts what the Bible says in Deuteronomy 18:10-12, which condemns all witchcraft, sorcery and other occult behavior as morally abhorrent or loathsome. Modern witches and occult practitioners love to mock this biblical command. They believe occult behavior can be used for good or evil, depending on the motives of the person doing it. However, the Bible’s condemnation of such behavior is not trying to be mean for no good reason. No. The Bible condemns occult behavior because it focuses people’s attention away from God, including prayer to God and worship of God. It also leaves people open to demonic influence. Indeed, many modern day witches and occult practitioners actually worship other gods, including moon gods, so-called horned gods, sun gods, etc. Some of them even pray to such gods and offer oblations to them. In fact, MOVIEGUIDE®’s reviewer actually had a few friends in a Chicago science fiction club he attended, who did such things during closed evening outdoor sessions before a full moon. Also, a MOVIEGUIDE® investigation of several official HARRY POTTER websites in 2003 found children as young as 11 writing prayers to other gods and to the sun and the moon to fulfill their wishes. See pages 63-65 of our book FRODO & HARRY: Understanding Visual Media and Its Impact on Our Lives by Dr. Ted Baehr and Dr. Tom Snyder.
So, witchcraft and other occult practices are not “innocent” behavior, after all. Books and movies that promote them are enticing impressionable people into godless, immoral lifestyles. As Jesus says in Matthew 6:33, “Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness.”
Despite this, MOVIEGUIDE® found it interesting that, in this HARRY POTTER prequel, the witches and sorcerers are actually a different race than the regular humans populating FANTASTIC BEASTS AND WHERE TO FIND THEM. The magical people are born with powers; their powers aren’t just learned. Thus, the “normal” people in this movie’s world can’t use witchcraft because they don’t have any magical powers. This is a slightly more benign, less insidious view of witchcraft, because in most views of occult witchcraft, everyone is encouraged to learn how to do it if they want to do it.
Another interesting aspect to FANTASTIC BEASTS is one explanation by the hero, Newt, about a dark magical phenomena in the story. He says that, sometimes, a young magical child’s powers are repeatedly repressed. This can lead to the young child creating a black magic energy force that can destroy things or even kill. This force ends up killing the child at a young age, he adds.
This view of repression is a modern myth conception or lie. It comes from the famous psychologist Sigmund Freud, who opined that people are taught to repress or do repress their forbidden sexual desires. Such repression can create neurotic, destructive behavior among people, Freud thought. Neurotic behavior not only is self-destructive. It can also hurt other people.
Modern humanists, including Marxists, radical feminists and some misguided libertarians, have taken this concept of repression and encouraged people to stop repressing ALL of their emotions and desires. Another example are the rampant sexually transmitted diseases because society has encouraged people to express their sexual desires whenever they want.
In reality, however, according to Bruno Bettelheim in his book, FREUD AND MAN’S SOUL, Freud never really taught people to NEVER repress their emotions and desires. In fact, Bettelheim says, Freud limited his psychiatric sessions to 50 minutes because he felt that sexual desires and other emotions can be so powerful that even talking about them too intensely for a longer period of time can lead to negative side effects and new psychological and behavioral problems. Thus, according to Bettelheim, Freud’s goal was to get his patients to understand their inner desires and emotions, no matter how negative, so they can control their desires and emotions better and live happier, more intelligent lives.
J. K. Rowling, the creator behind this movie and HARRY POTTER, is a well-known leftist who supports radical feminist and pro-homosexual lies about humanity and government policy. Her erroneous view of psychological “repression” in FANTASTIC BEASTS seems to be part of her radical socio-political views, not to mention her views regarding the supernatural, God, Jesus Christ, and the Bible.
Besides the witchcraft in FANTASTIC BEASTS, which includes minor use of magical potions, some mind reading and use of magical wands, the movie’s ending contains three plot problems the characters must solve by and at the end. In the resolution of two of these plot problems, good is used to overcome evil. Thus, justice is carried out, compassion is applied, working together is promoted, and war is shunned. In the third plot problem, Newt uses his innate compassion for people and animals to offer redemption to the abused young wizard whose abuse has brought out the darkness and evil within him. However, during the battle for the wizard’s soul, the minions of the Magical Congress intervene and use their powers to kill him just when Newt’s trying to appeal to the wizard’s soul. Thus, although the young wizard did commit two murders, including killing the person who had abused him for years, he’s also a victim. Also, in effect, the compassionate hero fails in trying to offer some redemption to the troubled young wizard and asking him to repent and stop using his powers to destroy things and endanger people. A better, more redemptive, more heroic, and more positive ending would have Newt succeed here rather than fail.
FANTASTIC BEASTS has no foul language or other explicit objectionable content. Some of the action and physical destruction is intense and scary, but often on the lighter side. Finally, the magical creatures aren’t really scary despite some of the destructive power some of them can unleash. They’re more cute, funny or fun than frightening. Regrettably, however, FANTASTIC BEASTS excessively promotes the occult and refutes the good.