I’ll admit, I’ve been a little more than excited about seeing Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them, and while I left the movie relatively satisfied, I definitely have some minor critiques, especially now that I’ve also read the screenplay.
When Magizoologist Newt Scamander arrives in New York, he intends his stay to be just a brief stopover. However, when his magical case is misplaced and some of Newt’s fantastic beasts escape, it spells trouble for everyone…
Review: I was very intrigued by the American side of the Wizarding World, and I thought most of the developments made sense. For example, it’s quite plausible that wizards in America would have much stricter regulations, especially after what happened in Salem. I also enjoyed the tie-ins to the British Wizarding World, particularly the banter regarding whether Ilvermorny, the American Wizarding School, was better than Hogwarts. The Niffler, also alluded to in the Harry Potter universe, was portrayed well, and was endearing despite its kleptomaniac tendencies. Two of the characters that I was wholly unfamiliar with, Jacob Kowalski, the American No-Maj (Muggle), and Queenie, a sweet and unassuming Legilimens, were perhaps the most engaging. If anything, they seemed more fleshed out than the main characters (Newt Schmander, and Auror Tina Goldstein). Granted, Newt was very charming when it came to his pets, and I loved that his manuscript, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, eventually made it into the Hogwarts textbook canon. But I definitely think Tina’s motivations could have been fleshed out a lot more, and that her interactions with Percival Graves could have used more depth and explaining. Perhaps the character that was my least favorite was Seraphina Picquery, the President of MACUSA, the American equivalent of the Ministry of Magic. Not only was she terribly one-dimensional, she seemed to forget events that had transpired the previous day. For example, when she accused Tina of knowing about an outbreak of beasts in New York for 24 hours and not telling her, she’d completely forgotten that Tina had tried to tell her the day before–only to get kicked out of the exclusive Auror meeting. There were also a few places that I felt were a bit “deus ex machina,” such as the real villain’s reveal and Newt’s suitcase (why did some of the beasts need to leave when their habitats were both enormous and enchanting?). Overall, though, the story was extremely compelling to watch, and to read–this is a solid effort for J.K. Rowling’s first screenplay. I especially like the concept of the Obscurus, and hope to see it in later films.
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