An American Dragon’s Tail
I should have known better than to foolishly believe that when the last Harry Potter film was released that would be the end of it. That with Voldermort defeated and the final credits, I’d never have to see anything to do with Hogwarts in the cinemas ever again. Foolish I was to even consider it really. So much like the rise of Donald Trump, here is something that no one really wanted but somehow happened anyway, it’s Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them.
I’m sure that J.K.Rowling thought it was a stroke of genius to transport the wizarding franchise both back in time and to a different continent, “Now I’ll appeal to everyone” she must have mused, on her throne made out of the skulls of her doubters. Yes, J.K. you could have appealed to everyone, but what you’ve actually done is lost your focus.
The one thing that is undisputable about Harry Potter is that it had heart, we had 8 years of The Boy That Lived, with many fans (myself included) growing up as Harry did. While I don’t like the first 2 outings of Potter, I realise they were crucial to the overall story arch of the franchise, this is where Fantastic Beasts falls down.
Newt’s tale is one of sorrow, loneliness and pain. This is the first time we are shown this character and he has already lived a life without us, he is a well-developed and rounded man, but he is too hard edged to fit into the soft world of Harry Potter, we weren’t really shown any truly dark magic till The Prisoner Of Azkaban, but here we are shown it almost immediately.
It’s not one thing in particular I could pull out but more an overall darker feel to the series and it feels like it’s only going to get worse. This is where the fingerprints of David Yates can be seen, in the darkness and unending dread of the film. It’s not much of a compliment, I agree.
Transporting the entire series to America feels like nothing more than a money spinner by Rowling. The Entire film kind of feels like that, but that’s beside the point, moving the series only emphasises that she’s in it for the money. The addition of a new continent brings nothing to the table, apart from a handful of new phrases like no madge (which replaces Muggles) and another opportunity for Colin Farrell to not be Irish.
Once we have set up all our pieces for the movie, and some fantastic beasts have been shown, we finally get what we came to see. We go inside Newt’s case. This is by far the highlight of the film, to actually see the fantastic beasts, this is something to truly behold. They are realistic, beautiful and just imaginative enough to be believable. This is the moment where the film truly comes alive.
Fantastic Beasts takes the iconic wizarding franchise in a new direction, however is held back by its dark tone and hard content. A noble if misjudged start.