Back when JK Rowling was originally writing Harry Potter, there were often gaps between books because the books got longer with each volume. During one of these gaps, she wrote two books that supposedly could be found in Hogwarts’ s library: Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (writing as Newt Scamander) and Quidditch Through the Ages (writing as Kennilworthy Whisp) Although I wondered what these two “writers” were like, I never thought they’d be a subject of a movie. But here we are, with a new set of prequels for the movies. The movies were a mixed bag as adaptations go, but how would these people fare with an original script?
Some might even wonder why Rowling has gone back to the Harry Potter universe again. My theory is that it’s because The Casual Vacancy, her attempt an adult novel, bombed. So why not use something that actually did make money to pay the bills? And unlike the more hipster-ish fans out there, I don’t think it’s bad that she’s making money again. However, I was among the many that didn’t like Cursed Child. So what about this?
I’ve heard some people criticize the setting of 1920’s-era New York City, instead of the usual British setting. I personally think it still seems British despite the new setting.
Newt Scamander is a great hero. His compassion for magical creatures causes him to get along better with them than people. I love the scene where he calls humans the most dangerous animals on Earth. (We totally are.) He also has poor social skills.
Along the way, he meets Jacob Kowalski, an aspiring baker. I liked him from the start. He was a fun character, and I liked how he accepted the weird things he saw without question. (“I couldn’t make this up if I tried”, he reasons)
Another enjoyable character was Tina Goldstein. Even though I knew she’d be okay (Newt dedicates his book to her), I still cared about her. She was the kind of foil that Newt needed, as she was more concerned with protocol.
The CG was neat. All of the animals looked great. The Niffler alone seemed like he would steal the show. The scene where the Magical Congress of the USA, or Macusa, as they’re abbreviated) sets to execute Tina is rather creepy.
Do I think this set of prequels will work? It’s too early to say. I’d like to see the movies drop more hints to the book instead of merely mentioning the characters we know. Maybe have Dumbledore or someone else who alive in Newt’s time show up. As it stands, this is a good start.