Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

November 28, 2016

Here’s basically how this went for me (WITH SPOILERS):

Me:  Oh yes, please, I would like a whimsical movie about wizarding magic in Jazz Age New York!

Movie:  Yeah, what we actually have is this dour gray thing with basically incompetent characters working in a system that has instant summary execution, apparently?  and also MASSIVE CHILD ABUSE but the victim isn’t saved and doesn’t get a happy ending is instead horribly destroyed because it turns out he was just a plot device all along.  How’s that?

Me:  *weeps softly like Westley in the torture machine in The Princess Bride*

So yeah.  I’m willing to consider that this was a case of my expectations and the actual movie not lining up at all, because plenty of people seem to like it just fine.  I mean, the creatures were kind of cool, and I liked Queenie, who in many scenes was literally the only spot of color in the entire thing.

Except.  Except. . . this movie has the wrong main character.  The main character is Jacob, not Newt.  The movie should have started with him and ended with him.  The very best parts were about this hapless Muggle (or No-maj if you prefer, which I don’t) who stumbles into the wizarding world — and is completely charmed by it, and open to the possibilities of magic, and embraces it, and does his best to help.  And then has to give it all up in order to protect that same world.  But maybe there’s a hint that he doesn’t, after all.  He’s an everyman, yeah, but there’s an actual story there.

Instead, the film piled on a couple of other plotlines that made the whole thing a crowded, chaotic mess.  I would have completely done away with the entire plot line involving some evil wizard dude causing trouble while disguised as a trusted wizard authority figure BECAUSE IT’S NOT LIKE WE’VE EVER SEEN THAT TROPE BEFORE IN A HARRY POTTER-WORLD STORY.  Seriously, you’d think they’d develop a “disguised evil wizard detector” and place it in every single doorway like we do with metal detectors, as often as this sort of thing happens.

I’m also just plain angry about the handling of Creedence’s storyline.  The New Salem whatever was kind of interesting — until it just vanished, and really it had no real connection to the rest of the story.  And Creedence could have been an amazing rescue/redemption arc there. (Maybe Jacob, unconstrained by the usual rules of the magical world, reaches out to him?  Maybe the bakery needs an assistant?)  But he really was just a Macguffin the entire time.  Too bad, so sad.

Yeah, I don’t think I’ll be seeing the rest of these.  (They’re planning how many?  Good lord.)



5 Responses to “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them”

  1. tyrshand Says:

    I was wondering — at the end of the movie there’s this black wisp that flows off before Newt comes up with his amnesia idea. Was that supposed to be a hint that Creedence wasn’t destroyed? I decided to believe that because otherwise I’d be horribly disappointed in the ending. I totally agree with you about Jacob and much of the rest of your review. (Though I still enjoyed the movie immensely)

  2. howardbrazee Says:

    Why is it that when they made every Muggle in New York (even those indoors) forget what happened – and did magic to fix everything that was broken – and somehow everybody in Jersey and the world also forgot – that Jacob still remembered and needed an individual spell?

  3. howardbrazee Says:

    Why is it that they were willing to punish the heroes so much more than punishing the real bad guy?

  4. Tim Schmidt Says:

    I did enjoy the movie but still have to agree with most of your comments.
    I felt there were 2 movies being played together. The 1st ( the movie we were expecting) was the light hearted Newt & his gang trying to round up his wayward creatures. The 2nd was the very dark drama which you focused on.
    I felt the 2nd was intended as a backdrop to the 1st and to introduce Grindlewald. The problem was it was the more compelling story and overshadowed Newt and the gang and not in a good way, particularly because of the unsatisfying ending.


  5. Honestly, when they treated it like a surprise that the Colin Farrell character was evil, all I could think was, “Duh! It’s Colin Farrell, of course his character is evil.”

    The Goldstein sisters and Kowalski were the main highlights among the characters (I have a theory, given the surname “Goldstein,” that Tina and Queenie may be the first Jewish wizards we’ve met in the Potterverse thus far — very, very cool if that’s the case). Plus, the beasts themselves were wonderful, but that goes without saying for an animal enthusiast like me (love that the Niffler was clearly modeled on an echidna). On the whole, however, I came away a little deflated.

    On the plus side, the Kong trailer was fun.

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