Write great protagonists!
I'll be at Storymakers
Tips organized by topic
Read about me
Editing Services
Read Testimonials
Learn the "bones" of story

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Fantastic Beasts and How to Watch it (Review + Fantastic Beast Giveaway)

Eeeek!! It's here! Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is finally out!!

And in honor of that, I'm doing a giveaway of Newt's vintage Hufflepuff scarf. (Sorry to everyone who read the title and thought I was giving away a fantastic beast--no nifflers or bowtruckles here 😞)

To enter, all you need to do is "like" or share this blog post from my Facebook Page (do both to enter twice), like or retweet this blog post on my Twitter (do both to enter twice), like or reblog this blog post on my Tumblr (do both to enter twice), and (you guessed it) like (+1) or share this blog post from my Google+--that means you can enter eight times. You must be follower of me on one of my platforms to win. The winner will be selected November 30th, and the giveaway is open internationally.

(Also, if you want to like and share my posts, but don't want to be entered in the giveaway, just go for it, and if you win, tell me you aren't interested, and I'll give it to someone else.)

It's like it's already Christmas 😍

EDIT: The winner of Newt's Hufflepuff scarf is Amanda K. Thompson!



The Fantastic Beast movie is just about everything your post-Potter self has been dreaming of: a fun, magical romp, streaked with a vein of dark magic, and (one of my favorites from Potter) thematic societal conflicts. Plus, we get to see a new part of the magical world many of us have been wondering about for over a decade: witches and wizards in the U.S. Of course it's not perfect, so I don't want to raise expectations so high that people are disappointed. But it's close. And there are a lot of great things about it.

One of the things that struck me fastest, was frankly how fun this movie was. It's been so long since I sat down and saw a movie that basically embodied fun. And not just any fun, the style of fun from the Harry Potter universe, one that I hadn't realize how much I'd missed until I was sitting in the theater watching it unfold. And I could not stop watching. I was glued to see what entertaining predicament came next. Oh, yes, there was dark magic, and a seriousness in theme, but if I only had one word to describe this movie, it'd be "fun." Be prepared to have a good laugh, and rest assured that all the best parts weren't shown in the trailers. 

The plot was perfectly paced and the emotions it hit wonderfully balanced, with just the right comfortable contrast. An excellent "first movie" to a series. Also, since Fantastic Beasts was written for screen, I think people who didn't "get" or couldn't "get into" the Harry Potter series will be able to enjoy this one. I mean, in Harry Potter you were taking books that were up to over 800 pages long, with tons of depth and layers and trying to cram them into a movie. As a result, the common movie-goer may not have "got" a lot of things, and lost interest. Fantastic Beasts will capture those people too.

The magical beasts were basically flawless. If you're a pet-lover, you'll want to go home and hug all your pets afterward. What I loved about the beasts is the filmmakers did a fantastic job of showing off animal behavior, and even though these are magical animals, they're relatable to our human experiences with animals--they have relatable behaviors. (Warning, you'll want to go to the magical black market and buy a Niffler or Occamy a.s.a.p.) And the film showed off a variety of different behaviors and demeanors that are either endearing or can wreck havoc. I was convinced that we would see a Lethifold in this film (okay, one of the reasons I was convinced was because I'd read it had been "confirmed," apparently not). What I thought was going to be a Lethifold from the trailers turned out to be something very different and even more surprising, but I'll say no spoilers on it.

I think one of the movie's greatest strengths was characterization and character contrast. The characterization is so well done, it's spot-on. I would be shocked to hear anyone say they disliked all the characters, and they aren't vanilla either. I did a whole analysis of Newt pre-movie, and wrote about some of my other impressions of the other characters as well, outlining some of the avenues Rowling could potentially go down. So I'm not going to do that all over, but rest assured that I found the characters just as lovable as I hoped. Newt is lovably awkward and never painfully so. I love that he regularly avoids eye contact when talking to people, and I think it's hard to not identify with him on some level. (And again, Hufflepuff 😍). 

Queenie was brilliant. Flirty with a "cute" take on it, rather than the common seductive and sexy (sure, she could be that too, but I loved the more "cute" approach), and smart too. Jacob--uugh--how can you not love him? He's so loveable! He's got to be everyone's favorite muggle (or "no-maj"). And Tina--she's such an excellent foil (contrasting character) to everyone. More practical, serious. Which means she provides great attitude and dialogue for other's to react to and play off. At times I could almost taste the desperation in her subtext. I felt and cared for her.

And the conflicts. Good heavens, was there a great mix of conflicts in play, and Rowling made good use of each of them. Conflicts between characters. Conflicts with beasts. Conflicts in government departments. Conflicts with muggles. Conflicts in society. Again, I don't want to blow up anyone's expectations, but my point is, Rowling did a great job of letting us taste and experience each conflict in the short space of one movie. And it gave us a great taste of the wizarding world in New York. (And what was nice is we didn't need all the explanations about how magic works, because we already knew from the Harry Potter series.)

So that's some of the wonderfulness of the movie. But as I mentioned before, it wasn't perfect. There was at least one part at the end (that I won't spoil) that did not work for me. Apparently it didn't work for others, because a lot of people in our theater started laughing (and it wasn't intended to be funny). I appreciate the plot surprise, but I just didn't really find it believable. Maybe if there was a tad more foreshadowing or explanation for why and a more solid reason . . . well, I don't want to spoil. But really, that one thing was the only real complaint I have. One thing? That's like nothing! That's good! Then there were a few super minor things--mainly some stuff with magic that seemed a bit off to me, but that's nothing new. In the last Deathly Hallows movie, Hermione runs into a locked gate and apparently completely forgets "alohomora" even exists. The magic problems in Fantastic Beasts were more minor than that. Most people won't notice them. I mean this is me we are talking about.

In the end, I think this series looks very promising. Just remember it can't be as good as the Harry Potter books. But as a side story, it's brilliant.

I'll probably write up some analyses and dissections at some point in the future. 


  1. What a great review. Wondering what I missed that didn't work for you, but I guess I didn't think through everything enough? I'm pretty good at buying into whatever they give me. I loved the movie too, though I had to describe it to my son as a "cross between Pokemon Go and Ghostbusters." But not really. It was way more than that! I was amazed at the imagination. That suitcase!!

    1. I'll probably talk about "the thing" later. But I'm glad it didn't bother you. It probably doesn't bother a lot of other people. But I know I wasn't the only one, judging by my theater's reaction haha. Could just be that we are different that way ^_^

  2. I'm curious to know what "the thing" is too. I loved all of it!

  3. The thing that doesn't work for you was also a problem for me. I'd love to hear your opinion more in depth.


I love comments :)