November 23rd 2016
Today I watched Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (hereafter known as just ‘Fantastic Beasts’)
Going into it I was worried, because I read Harry Potter and the Cursed Child the other day and hated it. Read my review here. So, I was worried that the next piece of media I consumed from the Wizarding World of Harry Potter (hereafter known as just ‘WWOHP’ would be just as bad.
Thankfully, it wasn’t.
In fact, it was quite good. Really good, actually.
I enjoyed Fantastic Beasts much more than Cursed Child because although the former made nods and hat tips to the WWOHP that we know and love, it wasn’t consumed by it as much as the latter. Cursed Child felt forced, like they had to try and make it relevant to the previously adored WWOHP for it to work as a standalone work of fiction.
Fantastic Beasts didn’t do this. It created a story that was completely standalone, and executed it without need for constant throwbacks to the original series.
And of course, what made this spin-off so much better than the Cursed Child is that it was written by JK Rowling. Cursed Child was written by some pretenders, and as such was full of holes and misnomers. Fantastic Beasts was almost perfect. As far as I could tell the one flaw with it was that if Newt was expelled from Hogwarts then he, like Hagrid
before after him, should not be allowed to use magic.
But, it seems that JK has already acknowledged this.
In my opinion, it could have just been an oversight, and when someone pointed it out – as creator, writer and inventor of the world JK is at perfect liberty to say “All will become clear” because she can do what she wants with the world, because it is hers.
When Jack Thorne and John Tiffany tried to change the inner working of the WWOHP it didn’t work because it is not theirs to change.
JK can do what she wants.
After watching it I was left with a familiar, but long forgotten feeling…
I have to wait 2 years for the next movie. Almost 10 years until this series is complete. It’s like being a kid again.
And that’s why Fantastic Beasts was so good. Because it was faithful to my childhood whilst respecting my adulthood. It explored deep political subtext that I’d miss if watching it with teenage eyes. It was humorous and moving without being too much of either. I didn’t even mind that it was set in New York, because doing so meant that the WWOHP could be explored further than the grounds surrounding Hogwarts castle in the Scottish highlands.
I’m aware of the marketing reasons behind basing it in the US – book sales in the US totalled $7.7b at last count, dwarfing sales in the UK – but I’m fine with it.
Cursed Child felt like bleeding a (Philosopher’s) stone dry. But Fantastic Beasts reaffirmed my belief in the franchise.
Until tomorrow, how long until the next one?