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.)