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Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (review)

I jumped on the Fantastic Beasts train pretty late in the game. I guess I couldn’t find platform 9 ¾.

Almost immediately I was hooked into Rowling’s new world of magical beasts, international exploits and one particularly intriguing magizoologist.

Can we just fangirl/boy over Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne) for a bit? Holy smokes--this character brings an entirely colorful, mesmerizing and fresh appearance to the screen. Rowling is truly gifted at introducing personalities who go against the grain, the unpopular underdogs, and make her audiences fall in love with them. Newt/Eddie is as lovable as a Build-A-Bear and is original with an almost child-like essence. Those slight smirks, his shifting yet innocent eyes and ever-present lack of social skills--who knew subtlety could alleviate a character so brilliantly? Rowling, I raise a toast to you.

I am also extremely impressed with the casting director, Fiona Weir, for finding Alison Sudol who played Queenie Goldstein. Talk about freshness, here’s a character who could’ve easily fallen into the shallow and flirtatious stereotype, and instead she achieved an endearing personality who--and don’t miss this part--actually played a key part to the plot! Queenie is not to be underestimated because of her strudels or lovesick daydreaming; this legilimens is vital enough to be of advantage to the truly evil Gellert Grindelwald.

Oh yeah, Rowling is full of fresh ideas and characters.

Now, her second Fantastic Beasts film, the Crimes of Grindelwald, has received more than a little bit of criticism. And sure, the plot is a little messy and overdone. I personally believe her character development ingeniousness surpasses any slight plot blemishes, but I will acknowledge that they do exist. Should Grindelwald/Depp have been given some more screen time? Probably. And the scene that revealed Creedence’s watery past was a bit...much.

I did read up on how Steve Kloves will be co-writing the third installment in the Fantastic Beasts franchise along with Rowling. He screen wrote all of the Harry Potter films (except for The Order of the Phoenix). Writing for the big screen and for the page alone are definitely two different things. I’m not going to complain about Rowling’s multitalented abilities, but if she’s to receive help from anyone--Kloves does fit the resume.

Regardless, my review is essentially this. You know how kids will sometimes squeeze their pet hamster to death? Not on purpose, but because they love this little creature so much--that they don’t know how to express their emotional state, other than to literally love it to death? Replace the hamster with Newt/Eddie, and that’s pretty much where I am at.

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