Published: 16th November 2018
Started reading: June 26
Finished reading: June 29
At the end of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, the powerful Dark wizard Gellert Grindelwald was captured in New York with the help of Newt Scamander. But, making good on his threat, Grindelwald escapes custody and sets about gathering followers, most unsuspecting of his true agenda: to raise pure-blood wizards up to rule over all non-magical beings.
In an effort to thwart Grindelwald’s plans, Albus Dumbledore enlists Newt, his former Hogwarts student, who agrees to help once again, unaware of the dangers that lie ahead. Lines are drawn as love and loyalty are tested, even among the truest friends and family, in an increasingly divided wizarding world.
Review (contains spoilers)
I am going to begin this review by confessing that when the film was released in November 2018, I was caught up in all the hype. Although I noticed and identified several flaws with this second instalment of the Fantastic Beasts series, in my excitement I largely overlooked them.
On second viewing, I was much more level-headed and accepted that the film was not quite as good as I wanted it to be. There are several great moments, and the acting and production values are almost entirely magnificent, but there are also times where the plot leaves a little to be desired.
Reading the screenplay was an interesting and enlightening experience, which helped me understand the context of the story better. Examples include the background between Leta and Corvus Lestrange, and the roles of Grindelwald’s closest followers, the latter of which was a bit unclear in the film.
The best thing for me about the screenplay is reading each scene and seeing how it was brought to the screen. It gives an excellent insight, and I enjoyed seeing everything described in J.K. Rowling’s own words.
Now for the flaws.
First of all, there are too many characters and not enough of a focus on the magical creatures, which were right at the forefront of the first film. It feels like much of this instalment is here to advance the plot, and the character development suffers slightly.
With the emphasis on Grindelwald, there is less screen time for the main quartet of Newt, Tina, Queenie, and Jacob. I love Tina as a character, but she just does not do enough in this film, and most her scenes are about her relationship with Newt. As for Queenie, her joining Grindelwald at the end was meant to be because of the power of his words, but instead it comes across as being very out of character.
The story returning to Hogwarts was good, but I was less than impressed at the appearance of Professor McGonagall. I love Professor McGonagall, but it showed a complete disregard for the Harry Potter timeline! I also struggle with the revelation that Nagini was a woman before turning into Voldemort’s snake.
And finally, we have the even bigger revelation at the end that Credence is apparently Dumbledore’s long lost third sibling, Aurelius. It might turn out that Grindelwald is lying, so I will not call this a flaw just yet, but if it were true it would wreak further havoc with the aforementioned timeline.
The screenplay does emphasise the somewhat meandering plot of this film, but it is still a very fun read. I must mention the artwork, which is absolutely stunning and just an intricate joy to behold! The next film in the series is a fascinating prospect, and I hope things will start falling into place.
Have you read the screenplay or seen the film? What are your thoughts? Let me know in the comments!