Apr. 30th, 2017

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At last I’ve seen Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them! Although now that I’ve seen it, I’m more sorry than I was before that I didn’t make an effort to see it in the theaters: it’s a vast and visually sumptuous movie and I think it must have really popped on the big screen. The magical special effects are for the most part delightful; I particularly loved the scene where Queenie is conjuring up a strudel, and all the plates and napkins and pastry dough are flying around.

I was afraid that Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them would have the same feeling of poorly-done fanficishness that Harry Potter and the Cursed Child did, but in fact the movie doesn’t suffer from that at all. Of course it helps that all the characters are new to us, and the American Wizarding World is also a different beast than the British one.

Although Fantastic Beasts did have the most British New York I’ve ever seen, I must say. But then I don’t go to Harry Potter for historically accurate and in-depth view of the Muggle World, anyway, so this is more in the lines of something amusing I noted than something that actually detracted from my pleasure in the movie.

I enjoyed Newt and Tina and Queenie, but probably my favorite character was the Muggle baker Kowalski. (I don’t think I’m ever going to come to terms with the word No-Maj.) He’s just been bitten by a magical creature, been dragged into a world of flying plates and food that cooks itself, is holding a conversation in which he doesn’t need to say anything with a magical mind-reading girl, and he’s - perhaps a bit disoriented, but he just keeps on going with it. You want me to climb into your magical suitcase, Newt Scamander? The one that unleashed the creature that bit me? Okey dokey.

Having said this, I’m not sure that foregrounding a Muggle like this is a good idea, because it really highlights the heartlessness of the wizarding policy of erasing Muggle memories of magic. Kowalski helped save the world New York! Surely he deserves to remember it? And not just bits and pieces of it that tug at his brain and suggest odd pastry creations to him. It hits me in the same sad place as the ending of The Dark is Rising.

However, Queenie’s appearance in his bakery at the end suggests that they may do more with this storyline in future movies - which I clearly ought to see in theaters like a proper Harry Potter fan - I’m just not sure if they can go anywhere satisfying with it, given that we know from Harry Potter itself that the Statute of Secrecy remains in place. I guess I’ll just have to watch and see.


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