Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them by J.K. Rowling | Rating: ★★★★★
"My philosophy is that worrying means you suffer twice."
A lot of people are going to blow the lid off on this one for various reasons. I'm not going to argue with you on that--there are many reasons to be put-off by this one. There's no use denying it. That's that. But, I think the first thing that needs to be said is that I didn't like the screenplay only because J.K. Rowling penned it. I liked it because it was something that captivated me from the get-go.
Newt Scamander is far more likable than I was expecting when I picked this up. You need to know this and you also need to remember that he is not Harry Potter. It's easy to compare him to Harry if you allow yourself but that's a mistake. And while it is set in the same world (with differences and similarities, as well as mentions of characters we knew of from Harry's story)--this isn't at all the same story.
I find the characters we're introduced to have the same shimmering magic that we've come to expect from J.K. Rowling's Wizarding World. You (or rather, I) can't deny this because there's just something about them. From Newt, to Tina, to Queenie, to Jacob--there's something that draws you in from the start and keeps you in their orbit. If ever there were four characters that belonged around each other, it's them. And the way they form a connection with one another feels very permanent and indescribable.
(Queenie is my favourite, mind you. And I was so surprised to realize who the actress was, honey!)
It's impossible not to like them. There's this humour in their darker plots and it is just fully magical at the end of the day. Which is something, in my opinion, I did not expect to witness. Perhaps this is why I enjoyed both the film and the script as much as I did: I had lower than low expectations. Pair that with some pretty stellar performances by the actors and beautiful cinematography and you just can't beat the formula used.
If you're like me, you've always wanted to see more of the lowdown on some of the wizarding world's incredibly unique selection of animals. Beasts, if you will. I think it just opens this door to a whole different level of creativity--it fully explore these new, unique, fictional animals. You have no better teacher than Newt, in this case. From Nifflers to Bowtruckles, to many new additions to our magical creatures, there's something so cute and fascinating about the expansion.
A lot of the creatures serve as comic relief and a central plot for this first installment, but it's a balance between a much deeper plot of good vs. evil.
Which is a smart move--the Harry Potter novels relied heavily on all of lives emotions to balance everything out and I always found the film's disappointing on that front when it came to lacking humour--and I am glad to see it translates well on both screen and page.
I'm not going too far in depth of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them because I don't want readers to get spoiled on either option before them. But I am going to tackle many flaws from the entire deal--which cannot be ignored, despite how much I enjoyed it.
We have a major diversity problem. Major. Massive. Humongous. Incredibly blinding. I mean that in the most respectful way, guys. But this needs to settled in future installments. Especially if we're going to travel throughout the world. New York City is the setting for Fantastic Beasts and there's no reason for it to be lacking this much diversity. It's frustrating. Painfully so. And at this point, I can't imagine why we're still needing to have this discussion.
But that's not all. Equally as important: we have a major Johnny fucking Depp problem. I don't even have to explain that one, do I? But the fact that he has such a large role in the future sequels is problematic on a whole other level and makes me not want to see the films in theatre. Granted, he is playing a scumbag (art imitates life?) and all that but. Come on, guys. Come on.
(I really don't want to support them casting an abuser.)
So. This has gotten off track again. But. This is really all I can say regarding both pros and cons of Fantastic Beasts. Without spoiling the entire plotline for you guys--so expect another, in depth review, come the new year.