Movie review: “Fantastic Beasts & Where to Find them”

I enjoyed the movie.

like half the reason I went to see it was Eddie Redmayne, I must admit.
I’m a big fan of this dorky ginger boy.

I read the book of course, but there’s not much story there, and I intentionally did not look for much info on the movie.

so I expected to have fun, but other than that I wasn’t expecting much.
I was pleasantly surprised.

I have to say though, that I would much prefer movies simply about Newt chasing creatures rather than young Dumbledore and Grindelwald.

I really like Newt. he’s not your typical hero. he’s not a gryffindor, or a slytherin, he’s a hufflepuff.
He’s hasn’t travelled to the states to make his fortune, or seeking fame and glory. He’s simply trying to help a friend.

he mostly gets caught up in other people’s problems and he tries to help them.

he has the obvious problem of ‘oh shit my magical creatures are loose’ and he enlists some help with that since he, like his creatures, is lost in a big,unknown,unfriendly city.

Tina is much more closer to the typical hero archetype. she wants to help people,bring justice to the world and sometimes this saving-people thing gets her in trouble.

Tina has a sister,Queenie, a legilimens (mind reader) who’s very sweet though somewhat adrift.

and rounding up the cast we have audience surrogate, aka the guy who doesn’t know what the fuck is going on and ask the questions we wanna ask, Jacob Kowalski. Nice,friendly,simple guy who wants to open a bakery, accidentally switches cases with Newt and lets the creatures loose.

That could’ve been his whole role,but Newt takes a liking to him and so off they go adventuring together.

it’s interesting how this isn’t Newt’s origin story or anything of the sort. he remains pretty much static during the movie. this is one adventure, and a good one where he meets a lot of interesting people, but he isn’t himself isn’t changed.

everyone else around him is.
despite Newt’s claim that people don’t like, that they find him annoying, which is probably true,let’s be honest,he is a bit weird and definitely the kind of person who doesn’t fit it or make friends easily,he is a good person. he has a big heart. he cares for his creatures and like a good puff, he’s a very loyal friend.

so at the end of the movie, those he’s gotten involved with, they’ve changed. Newt has helped them in that regard. because he’s that kinda person. who’ll get involved when they see someone in trouble,who if they can help in anyway, will.

He may not be much of a fighter but there are other ways to help.

He reminds me a lot of Luna, and that’s not really surprising.

Those are the good aspects of the movie. it’s cute, it’s funny, it’s sweet, heartwarming even.

but there’s a whole other plot going on that is much,much darker.

first,the movie opens with newspapers talking about Grindewald’s reign of terror.

Independent of Newt’s visit, there is *something* attacking New York, and the MACUSA (The magical congress) is very worried it might cause trouble with the muggles, cause the magical community to be revealed, and worse, that it could lead to outright war.

let’s talk about the magical congress. I would love to know more about how it works, cause we don’t get a lot of detail,neither here nor in pottermore.
in the movie, it has a president named Seraphina Picquery who seems pretty cool but we hardly see anything of her, or of the …idk congresspeople? except for one scene where a lot of them are meeting.
Seraphina is also the only character who isn’t white in this whole movie.
I mean, a lot of the people in that one scene, the congress folk seemed diverse but they were little more than background dressing.

There’s a really intense,really shady-looking Auror by the name of Graves played by Colin Farell and I think everyone figured from the start he is not trustworthy.

That’s not even a spoiler, that’s just obvious.

It’s kinda funny, cause I saw the girl on the train yesterday which has Luke Evans and Justin Theroux who are also on my lists of ‘Do not trust, ever’

I’m trying to recall if I have ever seen any of them play good guys. I think I’ve seen some who were at best, morally gray.

but I’m not gonna do a whole list of ‘handsome white guys who look shady’ cause that’d be too long a list.

I’m thinking Chris Evans would stay out of it. don’t know who else.

let’s get into plot. mild spoilers below.

anyway, this guy, Graves, he’s meant to be investigating whatever this weird thing is that is attacking people in new york.
then we meet this other faction, the second salemers, who are on the hunt for witches and wizards.

these threads all actually intersect when Tina,Jacob and Newt are arrested by Graves and we found out Tina got herself in trouble by going after the second salemers, who are led by a fanatical woman with a lot of adopted children whom she regularly abuses. the eldest of the group, Credence, played by Ezra Miller, is being manipulated by Graves who’s after a powerful child.

Important note here,the way Graves treats Credence is pretty fucking creepy. Like, child predatorgrooming a victim creepy.
disaster strikes when a 1920’s trump supporter is killed at a rally, and everyone is panicking. this is when Newt is brought in, and he helpfully informs everyone the guilty party isn’t one of his creatures but a much darker one called an obscurus. or obscurial. I’m not sure. they use both words.

(obscurus is the creature,obscurial the person hosting the creature)

This is a dark creature created by hidden and repressed magic. kids growing up in dangerous,abusive households often learn to hide their magic and the magic fights back by becoming a dark,powerful,destructive force.

it’s kind of a miracle this didn’t happen to harry,really.
this children hardly ever live past the age of 10,New helpfully informs us.

and then you know it’s one of the kids in the second salemer lot and at least I couldn’t help but think of paralels to lgbt kids and how the most passionate homophobes are often gay themselves. they take all that hate they receive and throw it back out, pushing others under the bus.

It’s not surprising to find political commentary, of course. and there is quite a bit of it. from magic-hating no-majs to condescending wizards, kids in bad situations. there’s a lot to unpack.

there’s also another look at the frightening legal process or lack there of that the magical world uses.

Newt and Tina are found guilty of conspiracy and treason and sentenced to death. it’s a unilateral decision and there’s not a damn thing they can do about it.

They manage to get out of it, thanks to Newt’s creatures and Queenie’s quick thinking, but it does led one to wander about how many innocents are killed. or maybe not quite innocent but any trangression and you’re killed immediately? no trial, no chance? continues to be a pretty dark spot in the wizarding world.

The whole scene is super dark and scary,really. Kind of a discordant note with the rest of the movie.

it all ends with a big confrontation, of course,not between Newt and anyone, though he does try to help, not as a fighter,but as a mediator. he achieves some success with words, until Aurors come and they make a big mess.

Newt does manage to save the day, once again thanks to one of his creatures.

It’s a interesting movie cause it’s not Newt’s origin but it does serve as origin for other characters. for Newt, it’s more about learning to deal with humans,for the most part, it seemed like for the first time, he had a team.

reminded me a bit of Flynn Carson and the Librarians, he was on his own for so long, working with a team was a bit of a process.

that is I think, the main takeaway for Newt. meeting new people, making friends,having people to rely on. seems like a new experience for him.

All in all, I enjoyed it a lot. walking out I felt rather overwhelmed,like there was so much going on that I couldn’t fully process.

There were characters who were clearly good and some clearly bad, and others stuck in the middle.

It was cute and funny, other times dark and scary.

I don’t think it’s entirely appropiate for children. though the scary parts aren’t like obviously scary. I think you have to be a bit older to properly understand them, kinda like seeing a thestral.

I do think I need to see it again to properly take it all in. first watch you’re always a bit in awe of everything happening to fully appreciate it plus it is a movie relying heavily on misdirection so a second view brings a whole new perspective.

I think JK did a really good job on the script, on bringing several threads together and not making it feel overstuffed or confusing.

though there is a very clear difference between the more light-hearted first part and the darker second dark clouds after a sunny day. There’s a couple of really dark scenes that I think don’t quite fit with the tone of the movie, probably a glimpsw of what’s to come.

definitely worth the ticket money.
It looks like I will continue to support HP-related stuff, though I really wish they’d recast johnny depp. and maybe reconsider some of the racist stuff we’ve learned of Ilvermony and magic in northamerica.

I’m not quite ready to give up on HP or in Jo, but I think it is importantly to call out problematic shit.

One final though: it’s not at all cynical. I feel like a lot of movies,media in general is but FB feels very idealistic.

No one feels evil or even malintentioned. except for the actual villain,of course.
I do wonder how this script came about. Did Jo write it like this from the beginning? Did she write newt’s adventures in NY first and then decide to connect it to Grindewald or where they always connected?

It feels a bit like a backdoor pilot,like we’re lured in by the premise of Newt and his creatures to be dropped in to Grindewald’s machinations, a world in the brink of war.

Clearly that’s where they’re going with the five movies but I wonder if it was always going to be like that or if something changed along the way


2 Replies to “Movie review: “Fantastic Beasts & Where to Find them””

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