Book Review – Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (Screenplay) by J.K. Rowling

★★★★ 4 Stars

Series: Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them: The Original Screenplays
Genre:
 Fantasy / Adventure
Publication Date: November 18th, 2016
Publisher: Arthur A. Levine Books

“My philosophy is that worrying means you suffer twice.”

In my honest opinion, the Fantastic Beasts series was a fantastic way for Rowling to rejuvenate the Harry Potter universe and spread its branches in fresh, inventive directions. It needed this after Cursed Child, which I didn’t particularly like and thought was a mishandled retcon of the original novels. Like virtually every witchy soul in this strange little world, the novels remain amongst my favourites, and if ever somehow they don’t age well for me in years to come, I will forever be fond towards them.

Screenplays, by their nature, aren’t exactly “engaging” in the way a novel is, but it’s fun and a quick read nonetheless, and the movie the script goes with is really entertaining. Fantastic Beasts wins where Cursed Child faltered. The characters are consistent, moreso because they are new characters that haven’t really been a major part of the series before, and because Rowling herself actually developed and wrote this one in its entirety. Cursed Child took established characters from the novels and… descended into strange, fanfiction-like caricatures of them. Traumatic flashes of My Immortal and its infamous poetic prose dashed through my head the entire time with that screenplay.

Taking place in America, Fantastic Beasts almost doesn’t feel like it’s in the Wizarding World, but that’s not a bad thing. I find it fascinating, on the contrary. I’ve always wanted to see an exploration of what it was like for magical people outside of England and Hogwarts, though was a bit disappointed they don’t discuss the American Wizarding schools more, especially since it’s based somewhat off of Native American mysticism. That’s super awesome.

Would I have preferred a traditional novel? Well, I always will. The prose of Harry Potter is a prominent figure in what makes it so easy to read and re-read and return to continuously. But this works fine as a script, too. Newt Scamander is the god emperor of quirkiness, and a rare example of a solid, quirky character that isn’t try-hard about it. The actor, Eddie Redmayne, who plays Newt in the film portrays this character perfectly and with a lot of heart, as well.

I like the involvement of more sympathetic Muggle and Slytherin characters, the latter in particular because it’s my sole gripe about the novels that there were not ever really any “positive” Slytherin characters, only anti-heroes at best. It made you think, why would they bother keeping Slytherin as a class if they all turn out sociopathic criminals? There had to have been good Slytherins, we just never saw them in-story. Ambition is not inherently a bad character trait, but apparently it is if you enjoy the company of reptiles.

However, my personal favourite character, possibly not only in Fantastic Beasts but the series as a whole, is the Niffler. D’aww, look at him. This review should have been just Niffler pics.

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