I was initially reluctant to watch. For me, Harry Potter ended with The Deathly Hallows. Rowling’s milking on her own creation. But, I watched it anyway…and I’m not disappointed.
Not the greatest film ever made. But, it’s still good and fun. It also provides better grasp of the HP universe. As a pothead (uhm), that really excites me!
The Goblet of Fire made us (and Harry Potter himself) realise that not all witches and wizards were Brits. But still, the series was almost completely set in the UK.
Was. Fantastic Beasts is the first HP-related story completely set abroad. The NYC, to be exact. The male lead is a Brit surrounded by Americans.
I also notice how the American witches and wizards blend among the no-majs (American muggles). Their British counterparts tend to stick out like sore thumbs.
Of course, the film’s set in NYC, world’s biggest city. The magical humans have to learn stay low-key all the time. The British ones tend to be rural settlers; they rarely interact with muggles.
That makes me think: why the Brits prefer the rurals? Maybe there’s something about their culture that the Americans lack.
Or maybe, some of the Brits do live in cities. Every time we visit a character’s home, it’s always rural. But then, we have never visited the house of every single character!
Wait, I just remember. There is indeed one urban magical home: the Grimmauld Place. The family home of Sirius Black. He was unlike the rest of the Blacks.
They were proud ‘pure-blooded’ witches and wizards, comparable to racial supremacists. They had no reason to mingle with the muggles. But, why they chose to live among them is a mystery.
Okay, it may seem boring to know about fictional settlement geography. But, it’s an extension of the world-building! It excites me more than the magical wildlife themselves!
If Rowling thinks UK cities have significant magical communities, I would love to know their stories. If she doesn’t think so, I would love to know why they prefer the rurals.
I love analysing the societal aspects HP world. I’m a social studies nerd! I always try to do this with every long-running series. Again, more exciting than the magical wildlife!
Another thing I love about the film is its social commentaries. The trademark of HP franchise. Government is obviously not untouchable.
The British magical government is openly sleazier. But, its American counterpart isn’t trustworthy either.
Both willingly ignore glaring warning signs and uphold shamelessly antiquated legislation. But, the Americans are scarier in how quick they are to execute someone. Government is the dirty G word.
Entertainment like HP are a reminder for us to not take authorities for granted. Unfortunately, many still naively and blindly trust them and expect others to do the same. Well, they can’t complain when authoritarianism come into being.
Prejudice is also a target of Rowling’s wrath. She believes it does nothing but harm to literally everyone, even the bigots themselves. And I agree wholeheartedly.
Besides harming their victims, bigots let themselves shrouded in dark clouds of immorality, as shown to some HP characters. They become lower than their objects of inhumane contempt. We must always treat ourselves better than that.
Compassion is applauded in the series. Share yours with every single creature. Literally every single one of them. No exception.
Frankly, I believe not everyone deserves compassion; we need to put hateful on their places. But, at the same time, I still admire Rowling’s championship of humanity. Cynicism has yet to devour her.
Unlike the previous stories, Fantastical Beasts emphasises on compassion for the magical wildlife. Rowling reminds us of their greater vulnerability…and our inhumane, supremacist selfishness. You know, the badge of honour for some of us.
HP is also known for how it treats characters. Most of them are more complex than they seem, especially the female ones. Again, Fantastic Beasts stays true to the series.
I was initially distressed by the blonde lady with high-pitched voice. God, not another ditzy blonde! What year is this, anyway?
Well, she turns out to be quick-witted, level-headed and reliable, more so than her dark magic-fighting, combat-trained but reckless sister. Trustworthy, she is.
The fat guy. God, not another fat guy as the comic relief? Seriously? Is fatness the only thing that can draw laughter?
Well, his personal problems make him a really sympathetic character. He also brings out most of the film’s emotional depth. He is the heart of the story.
One of the film’s villains is very grey. He did kill people. So threatening that killing him was the only option.
But, at the same time, his victims horribly mistreated him. Their deaths aren’t worth our tears and make the world a better place.
I admit that I have my own guilty pleasures. I can love stories with predictable and completely happy endings. They entertain me in bad days. But, I draw the line at stereotypes.
They put me off more really bad, more so than formulaic plots. The older I get, the more I associate them with close-mindedness.
A close mind sees us as mere stereotypes, not as who we really are: a cluster of complex collectives, each a myriad of distinctive and often unrelated individual humans.
Seems like a dramatic reason to despise stereotypical fictional characters. But, my mind cannot separate them from real-life bigotry. Not sure if it’s good or bad. Anyway…
Overall, I’m personally satisfied. It’s a whimsical extension of the limitless HP universe, encouraging us to be more imaginative.
Despite the fun, it still embraces social and political conscious, reminding us of our own reality.
It treats its characters like actual human beings, not like a bunch of dehumanising pigeonholes.
It cherishes its predecessors and has a special place in the franchise.
Is Rowling milking on her own works? That, I don’t know. But, I can confidently say this:
Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them is a wonderful gift to her fans.
A side note:
I am still skeptical about Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. But, so was I with Fantastic Beasts. Now, I am seriously considering to buy the play script. Who knows? Perhaps, I will love it as well.