I’m part of that generation where Harry Potter just works for me, and on every level. As a piece of fantasy, and filmmaking, it is perfection and I adore every one of those movies. So, with that in mind, I was fairly excited for Fantastic Beasts, apprehensive but still excited. Apprehensive, because I’m content with leaving J.K. Rowling’s magical world alone. I don’t need any of the blanks filling in, as they all exist in my head. As well as this, I like to feel that I’m anti the ‘universe movies’ genre. By this I mean worlds like the marvel one, that are spun out to cater to a core fan audience then commercialise and grow from that. Fan service in other words. It’s all become very boring, and I didn’t want Potter to fall down that rabbit hole. Yet, I’m no anarchist, I still buy Coca Cola and Nestle products, and I own an iPhone. I see these movies then complain about them.
What I found with Fantastic Beasts was a hell of a lot of exposition and winks to the camera. There was ‘magic filler’ in there that wasn’t needed, making it very fake to me. And I like Potter exposition and its clever way of updating us on the story through the magical newspapers. It just didn’t work in this film and all the world building felt as though it was piling on top of each other, rather than being integrated in. From there, I felt like a franchise film was being created, a way of opening the door to more commercial property. It’s sad really, because I honestly believe we’ve been brainwashed to enjoy these types of movies.
And not completely brainwashed, because I enjoyed many elements of the film. The majority of the comedic elements struck well with me, and the core group of characters were pleasant enough to watch. Highlights being the ‘no-maj’ guy and Eddie Redmayne as protagonist Newt Scamander, who I thought was rather charming in this role. Some of the set pieces were fun, but for the most part the aesthetic and visual effects of the film were bland to me. It appears overdone in my eyes and this along with the franchise building plot made me not love the film. Also as a screenwriter, Rowling doesn’t do it for me; her sticky dialogue (similar to her books) didn’t fit with David Yates’ grand direction. Hoping for the future films she blends more into the background again.
The problem is I came out of this film giving it the mark of ‘worth the cinema ticket price’, which means I’m endorsing the commercial film. It’s an enjoyable film, and a nice one with largely good values, but I can’t help but shake the notion that Rowling and the producers are sucking the life out of the art of cinema by reeling us along with this endless fantasy world. An endless fantasy world that is less fantasy and more dollar signs. The best thing I can do is not go to the cinema to see the four sequels, and write more things like this.