Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them's Best Character Is A Muggle

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them: A surprisingly sweet movie with a muggle who steals the show.

What it is: The latest movie in the Harry Potter-verse. Fantastic Beasts was a fictional textbook the kids read in the original books, which was then turned into a "real" textbook written by Harry Potter creator J.K. Rowling. The film, written and produced by Rowling, tells the story of the textbook's author, a "magizoologist" named Newt Scamander, as he stops off in New York City in the roaring '20s. (Also, for the record, Jason and I have a very interesting theory about Newt Scamander that COULD STILL TURN OUT TO BE TRUE.)

Is it good? Sure! The plot was kind of a mess but the movie was a lot more winning than I thought it'd be.

Quick thoughts: I liked Fantastic Beasts on the whole, in large part because it provided an interesting contrast to the main Harry Potter series. I hadn't really considered how narrow those books were in scope: The main characters were all wizard kids. All seven books were set almost entirely in the English/Scottish countryside, with the occasional short stopover in London. And while they were ostensibly set in the early '90s, they mostly seemed to take place in a bubble out of time.

Fantastic Beasts takes place in New York City, where it is most assuredly the 1920s. Its main characters are all adults in full command of their magical powers. And most notably, one of the main characters, an aspiring baker named Jacob Kowalski, is a muggle. Kowalski was my favourite part of Fantastic Beasts, though I will admit I'm a sucker for the romantic subgenre we can call "secret magical world/memory erasure/love story". The main storyline and antagonist were both underdeveloped, the politics of the American wizarding world didn't make a lot of sense, and the way the good guys fixed everything at the end was straight-up creepy. But when I was watching another dreamy grin spread across Kowalski's face as he grabbed a second shot of giggle water, I didn't really mind.


Comments

    I'm not a Harry Potter fan and I have only seen a few of the movies and I enjoyed this. I also agree that the muggle stole the show. Even though the premise of the character was fairly cheap (a down on his luck romantic dreamer with a heart of gold who wants to set up a bakery using his wee granny's recipes, y'know, the kind of person only a jerk wouldn't like), the actor definitely closed the gap and did a great job.

    The only thing I didn't get, and someone feel free to enlighten me, was the villain's motive. What exactly was he trying to accomplish?

      Haven't seen the film in awhile, but I believe it was to manipulate the Wizard to gain his power. Since an Obscurus is extremely powerful (as seen in the film) and if he could either manipulate the wizard (or extract that power, which is why he was interested in Newt when captured with his own Obscurus) then he would almost be unstoppable (since the Obscurus in the film is more powerful then any before, which was due to the age)

      tl;dr wanted to steal or control the Obscurus which was stronger than any before. He caught wind of it due to the disasters and used his influence to keep it hidden to allow him to capture it (which is why he blamed Beasts)

      He intent was to use the power he uncovered to take over and rule Muggles.

      He wanted to use the kid with the powerful problem as a living WMD.

        Spoilers: I thought that as well but in the subway scene he seemed to want to try to calm the kid down and talk him back from the ledge so to speak. Did he want to use the kid as a targeted kind of weapon, like being able to say "hey kid, go and destroy hogwarts" or did he want the kid to destroy half of America to expose the wizards and start a war with the muggles?

          He was the only case of an obscurus latching onto an untrained wizard powerful enough to live past ten years of age. If "Graves" could convince him to settle down and join him, he could have used Credence as a weapon.

            It could've used a tiny bit more of exposition to give more motive. But overall it was a great movie.

              Good point. I watch with subtitles as a rule (writer). They weren't on when I watched it again with family the other night. Bit of a struggle.

              This is a trilogy of movies AFAIK so i'm sure they will delve into things like that further into the trilogy

          Honestly, a little of column A, a little of column B. Destroying his enemies was his preferred option, but if he goes chaotic and forces exposure (and ideally a war), then that's a suitable alternative. Not quite a Xanatos Gambit, but getting there.

    Thoroughly enjoyed it as a piece of tengental world-building of an established franchise. Let's hope the introduction of the "Big Bad" at the end spurns more focus and creativity in the inevitable sequel :)

    I think you'll find that Newt is the best character! Srsly tho, Jacob's just more relatable to most of the audience, which is, y'know... his fucking job as the audience-insertion character. The audience experiences a new world through his eyes, he's basically the protagonist.

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