Evil Movie Review: Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
This has been a great year for the Harry Potter Universe. While J.K Rowling has said she is “done” with the actual stories about Potter, she has delved in to the world of playwright and screenwriter to experiment in her wonderful world of witches and wizards. The hype surrounding Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them has been building for almost two years now. This story features Eddie Redmayne playing Newt Scamander, the famous author of the textbook by the same name as the title. Those of us true Harry Potter fans already read Rowling’s version of the text book when it came out in paperback way back when, but now there’s a whole story to surround the making of aid textbook. This week I dove back in to the Potterverse head first, and here’s my spoiler filled review of them movie.
Unlike all the previous Harry Potter stories taking place in the U.K., this one’s entire story happens in New York City, in the year 1926. Newt has traveled to the United States on an undisclosed mission, but with a suitcase full of magical creatures secretly in tow. Essentially the overall story is about the people he encounters and how that all ties back to the famous evil wizard, (and former lover of Albus Dumbledore), Gellert Grindelwald. So sadly the story is not just about amazing creatures of magical origin, much to Hagrid’s and my chagrin.
What shall I start with, what I liked or didn’t? I will assume those of you reading this already saw the movie, so I will avoid a play by play. I guess I will start with the good, and leave the bad for later.
What did I like about this movie?
- The creatures. What can I say? Lilith here has a special relationship with all beings non-human, and this movie had lots of adorable, scary, and creative creatures. The most endearing one was definitely the Niffler. Even the ones not related to Scamander were delightfully creepy: in particular the Obscurus. What is this? Such beautiful dark wizardry: an Obscurus is a parasitic force that inhabits a child forced to repress their magical tendencies. I will write more about why one of the side characters Credence suppresses his abilities later, but all that untapped potential energy builds up in these kids and can become a source of evil that will lash out and hurt or kill those around them. The creature part itself has no recognizable aspects, but instead is a swirling mass of black, acting like a swarm of locusts that can change size and shape to achieve whatever it wants at will. Not as pretty as a Demiguise, but impressive in its own way. Actually, my only complaint about the creatures were that several of them were not in Scamander’s text book, which yes I did read!
- The comparisons between British and American magic and sentements overall. Felt like it was spot on then and again now, when many countries are sadly becoming more isolationist and fear-motivated. In general the Americans were portrayed as more fearful of foreigners, more fearful that the muggles of their country would destroy them, and more readily open to punish those and follow orders. Granted we learn more about Officer Graves later, but his quick decision without after thought to execute Tina and Newt seems par for the course for the way things role in this magical America.
- Eddie Redmayne as Newt Scamander. I am not a self-proclaimed Redmayne fan, but I think his portrayal of a Hufflepuff full of compassion was excellent. He was so kind-hearted, and absolutely loves his creatures. He was actually in America to release one of them that had previously been illegally captured and tortured. Even though he keeps his animals in a make shift zoo inside his suitcase, he protects them from those that might harm them, and has so much love bursting out of the seams for them. His love is infectious, spreading around to those who watch his motherly tenderness with his wards.
- Joseph Kowalski, the muggle, I mean non-maj, brought in to the mix. I wasn’t sure how I would feel about this character, but he proved to be quite the brave soul. If he had been a wizard, he would have been a Gryffindor. Rather than lash out at this newly discovered world of magic with fear, hatred, or resentment, he fully embraces it and gain and again proves his moral code is top notch. The worst part was that the stubborn Americans made his memory be wiped at the end too, which seemed unfair to say the least. But there was some alluding to him regaining it later on, which he deserved. In fact, the American wizarding community should have given him an award!
- The New Salem Philanthropic Society and Mary-Lou the villain. I think the reason I preferred them over Grindewald’s villain is she was so believable. And again, with all the racist, isolationist sentiment spreading across the world today it seemed on point with current issues. J.K. Rowling labeled this fear-filled, angry, and violent individual the way I think all these individuals should be: as the villain.
What didn’t I like about the movie?
- The attempted relationship between Newt and Tina. Now if you read information on the extended Potterverse, she will eventually go on to marry Newt. But in the meantime, can’t there be two leads of the opposite sex that don’t fall in love?! They didn’t exactly seem like a good fit, considering Tina continually tried to turn Newt over to the authorities, and even got him sentenced to death at one point. Yet it seems that even JK has fallen for this trope that two leads of the opposite sex need to have some sort of romantic chemistry, angst, or both.
- Percival Graves as Grindewald, and the Johnny Depp revelation. Yup, that’s right. Colin Farrell did an ok job as the bad cop, but trying to tie it all together and make him Grindewald in disguise in the end was just too much. Revelations like this in the original Harry Potter books were done so much more tactfully, and in hind sight it all made sense. Yet this movie revelation just felt like too much shock and awe, and made it much less believable.
- Too much action and magical power. Maybe it’s cause that’s what draws crowds to the movies, but in general these new magical people in the movie universe seem too powerful. In fact, I am shocked that they haven’t taken over the humans. At one point I saw Officer Graves cast a spell without a wand in his hand! I mean, yes you can cast a spell without saying the words aloud when you are a level ten wizard, but no one can do it without a wand! It makes learning all those spells alongside Harry, Hermione and Ron back in the day seem like a joke.
- The Americans “no exceptions” rule. Again, relating back to Joe’s memory wipe, the Americans seemed way to rigid, cold, and uncaring. We know that British people can be just as hateful (ahem, Brexit), yet Americans are the only ones portrayed this way in the Potterverse. In general most of the Americans seemed to behave this way, and I would have loved to see some new characters introduced that were brave, kind, compassionate, and like all the famed characters we love from across the pond.
That about sums up my thoughts on this new addition to the Potterverse. I’m wondering how many stuffed Nifflers will be under trees and in stockings this year!
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Posted on December 10, 2016, in Creature Comforts, Evil Movie Reviews, Movies and tagged creatures, Eddie Redmayne, evil movie review, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, harry potter, JK Rowling, Movies, your weekend creature comforts. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.