Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them (Original Screenplay)
J. K. Rowling
Genre(s) | Fantasy, Children’s, Plays
Goodreads Rating | 4.53
Humpo Rating | 3.75
A solid return to Rowling’s magical world
Newt Scamander arrives in New York City with a case full of magical creatures for what should be a brief stay, however his tempermental case fails to contain some of the creatures and they run amok in the city where No-Majs (muggles) are segregated from witches and wizards. To make matters worse, NYC is experiencing sudden, devastating and unexplained events of carnage where buildings are being obliterated. Newt, accompanied by a merry band of companions help to recapture his lost beasts while also attempting to solve the mystery behind these unexplained bouts of carnage.
Newt Scamander, a magizoologist- an expert in the study of magical creatures, brings with him to New York, his case full of magical beasts that he has picked up along his journeys across Europe and Africa. The coltish and high-spirited Newt quickly realises that one of his creatures has escaped from his case and he heads into the bank where he perches himself next to aspiring baker Jacob. During their brief time sitting next to one another, Newt performs magic in front of the No-Maj, gives him an egg of a weird and wonderful beast, as well as mistakenly swapping cases. The scenes in the bank set them on path together which leads them to a heart-warming friendship which was a personal highlight of this screenplay.
One of Rowling’s most recognisable traits from her Potter books, less so in The Cursed Child, is her wonderful way with words when describing scenes. With this screenplay, she is able to use her ability to conjure breathtaking settings that provide the backdrop for her likable characters and exciting action. All three of these components were somewhat missing in Cursed Child, but in Fantastic Beasts, there is a greater sense of the three of them working in tandem brilliantly.
The thing that held Fantastic Beasts back from getting a 4-star review and above from me, was the predictable nature of the final third. Grindelwald’s involvement in this screenplay is focused intently on at the beginning, and he is mentioned briefly in various scenes. But Graves’ behaviour to members of MACUSA (Magical Congress of the United States of America) was the first tell-sign that I got about his potential motives, and then when we are told what an Obscurus is and how it is formed, the reasons for his relationship with Credence becomes clear.
But apart from the unpredictability, which wasn’t too much of an issue for me, Fantastic Beasts was a decent return to the magical world of the Potter-verse which we have come to love so much. The characters were developed enough for the reader to feel something for them, although I am sure they will be developed further in the next four installments. Newt gives off an air of eccentricity and his manic pursuit of knowledge of magical beasts is the central pillar of his character. He is accompanied for the majority of this adventure by Jacob, the loveable and friendly No-Maj who unexpectedly finds himself at the centre of a magical crisis. Tina is a MACUSA employee who keeps and eye on Newt during his stay in NYC following his use of magic in front of a No-Maj, she and Newt develop a bit of chemistry between them, but not to the extent as Jacob and Queenie had. Queenie is the beautiful Legililimens (can read minds) who develops a touching and real romance with Jacob, and the moment outside the subway station is the most beautiful moment from the screenplay.
Fantastic Beasts is a solid start to this new chapter of the Potter franchise, with some likeable characters, the same sense of wonderment of the magical universe, as well as different and real dangers that can act as the opposing foes that need to be faced. Although I had some cynical views on Rowling’s decision to delve into the magical world of America (to cash in on the huge North American market) I did enjoy the way she captured 1920s New York, but hopefully she can take her stories to far flung places where we haven’t visited before. I hope for jungles, mountains and oceans where the magical beats will be in their natural habitat. I for one, can not wait to see the film version of this, and to read the next screenplay that she produces.
The Humpo Show | Richard