WARNING: MANY SPOILERS AHEAD. DO NOT READ IF YOU DON’T KNOW YOUR NEWT FROM YOUR NIFFLER.
We all love Harry Potter, the books undoubtedly, but the films even more so. If not for their cast of fantastic British actors in iconic roles, then certainly for the casting of unknowns to play what arguably became THE most famous three children’s roles in film history.
The biggest draw, however, is undoubtedly the ability to play the magic that we see in our heads when reading visually depicted before us on the big screen. I remember going to see Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix in the cinema and being entranced by the literally spellbinding moment in the Department of Mysteries when all the prophecies come tumbling down on Harry and his pals’ heads.
Imagine my joy therefore when it was revealed we would be going back to Harry’s world. Imagine my disappointment when the finished product was nothing like what I anticipated. In fact, to be honest, I didn’t really like it.
Controversial I know to say I disliked the film, but some aspects I did actually enjoy. Eddie Redmayne, as has been already stated by a thousand critics better versed in films than I, was fabulous as Newt Scamander. His awkwardness and demeanour made him the perfect magizoologist, and that mating dance was something else.
In the true spirit of HP, Redmayne got very into the notion of being a bit of knob with a wooden stick in his hand, and I have to admit he did it rather well. The casting of Dan Fogler as Jacob Kowalski, the No-Maj who Newt meets and takes on a magical adventure was simply the best thing about the film. If he’s not in the other four films, married to Queenie and with at least three children, I shall cry.
This brings me onto what I did not like about the film. Four sequels?? Seriously J.K, what are you playing at? How on earth she managed to get ONE film out of the encyclopaedia that is the book version of Fantastic Beasts I’ll never know, so five might be pushing it a tad (a lot!). Also, in a film that is entitled Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, I wanted more of the beast part.
Yes, we had the naughty Niffler, but we were in Newt’s magical case for only fraction of the film, and not enough beasts escaped for my liking. Instead, we had the clunky New Salemers plot instead, as the creepy Barebones family slowly took over the film. The sense of foreboding within the film was well done, but really quite scary for the children amongst the audience. Harry Potter can be dark at times, but at no point were two of the major characters marched off to be executed. Point made.
“We have clichéd Mad Hatter/Sweeney Todd/Captain Jack as our Grindelwald, playing approximately every other character he’s every played”
The Obscuris was also an intriguing and slightly strange addition to the plot. Why have we never had mention of an Obscuris before in all the Potter literature? The only hint (as a friend pointed out to me), is in the strange history of Ariana Dumbledore. Maybe this is where the other films will take us viewers, but I can’t help but think J.K. has dreamt half of this stuff up just to make maximum profit and as many films as possible.
Also, the elephant in the room. Why Johnny Depp? Yes, he appears for all of about five seconds in the film, from a greasy Malfoy-esque back of head shot, to actual dialogue, but why have the Potter-Gods-on-high chosen to cast Depp? I have nothing against Johnny Depp as an actor, in most films, he’s actually pretty good, but I feel this is clichéd casting.
Who can play Gellert Grindelwald, the original HP bad guy? Who’s capable of playing slightly odd, quirky and strange characters and does so on a regular basis? Think of the joy that would have been created if a relative-unknown had been cast, like the creepy-but-weirdly-hot-but-creepy Ezra Miller as Credence.
This would have given the opportunity not just to boost a relatively new actor’s career, but the chance to bring an unknown and intriguing slant to the film, as we wondered how Grindelwald would be played.
Instead we have clichéd Mad Hatter/Sweeney Todd/Captain Jack as our Grindelwald, playing approximately every other character he’s every played. Also…plot-hole-wise, if Grindelwald is so powerful, how would he not know who the Obscuris is right from the moment he met them? I don’t think script-writing is J.K’s strong point.
Finally, the big reveal at the end. We knew it was coming from the moment Credence was handed a necklace bearing the mark of the Deathly Hallows from another significant character. Newt must have seen it too, however, and also been lurking down this dark alleyway, as he miraculously knew to cast the ‘Revealio’ spell at the end of the film, which showed the audience exactly what they knew was coming.
Other things that annoyed me included…Why has no one ever made an umbrella appear from the end of their wand before? Surely that is the most useful piece of magic ever! Why does the Jacob plotline basically follow Harry Potter? A person with no magic gets taken into magical world and has cool adventures before going back to mundane reality, before probably appearing again in the magical world in the next film. Why has Hagrid never had a pet Niffler? Why aren’t Niffler’s real? Can I have a Niffler please?
Overall, the special effects, 1920’s background, and the beasts when they appeared were fantastic. But there were too many confusing plot holes, twists and annoying casting choices to make me truly love this film. Sorry J.K, but I rest my case. I didn’t really like it.
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Media courtesy of Odeon, LA Times and The Guardian and E!Online