Written by Nelson Cumming
J.K. Rowling has decided to make the transition from an author to a screenwriter, at least for her own book. Is she as good a screenwriter as she is an author?
Well, I think she is a good comedic writer no doubt. I mean that with sincerity. Everything that is meant to be funny is, in fact, funny. The slapstick with the animals (specifically the gem seeking Niffler) provided some comic relief which is backed up by Dan Fogler who plays the only no-maj (a muggle) in the wizarding world who blunders his way through the wizarding world. Fogler was the best performance in the film bar none.
Rowling is also a good writer in expressing the themes and ideas she wishes to explore. A lot of the themes in this movie revolve around political powerplay, divided societies, isolation and repression. She presents that aspect of the story during the first third of the film. I was highly anticipating how it would progress and conclude.
…and then the cliff came.
The one major letdown this film has is that it never comes full circle. All the themes I have mentioned Rowling illustrates. But she doesn’t really progress those ideas further and with all the separate elements of the plot, they never come together.
The subplots: An outline
Without spoiling it. The first thirty minutes is basically plot progression which illustrates the society of witches and no-majs and how divided they are. There no-majs want to eradicate wizards and break their wands. Wizards are forced underground to practice their magic and live with each other.
After that there are comedy skits with the beasts and that element of the story is barely mentioned again. That was disappointing. A subplot involving a boy called Credence and the main antagonist Percival Graves (Colin Farrell) That plot element focused on powerplay, manipulation, isolation, and fear. Yet that subplot doesn’t get a proper emotional payoff by the conclusion.
Rowling also wants the kids to have a good time as well because she wants to show all the beasts that get released and the comedic elements in catching them. The goes for the cuteness factor as well with all the animals. Expect girls and kids to say “awwww”
An Archery Analogy
So you can imagine how frustrating it is when all these elements appear in their own scenes but never really come together. This also affected plot progression, traveling from one idea, leaving it behind, and moving on to the next.
All the elements that Rowling decides to dabble into works. That is enough for me to be entertained. But what Fantastic Beasts really suffers from a lack of putting all the plot threads and thematic elements together. That was disappointing for me. It wasn’t about what the story did, it’s what it didn’t do. ***1/4
P.S. The final reveal sucked. It didn’t make sense in both the story and the internal logic in the story.