Male and Female
I’m not quite sure what to make of this newest cinematic expansion of the Wizarding World. In one part, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them feels like a kid’s movie with its majestic use of magic. In another part, its marketing and rating suggests a teen movie. Yet at the same time, its 1920s setting and cast of adult characters suggests something that would appeal best to those who grew up with the original Harry Potter adventures. Well one thing is for sure, this new adaptation by the immortal J.K. Rowling is not going to appeal to anybody in the long-run.
If anything, Fantastic Beasts seems mostly most like an adventure for the teenage girl, as the very casting of Eddie Redmayne (The Danish Girl, The Theory of Everything) will satisfy their fantasies with his boyish charm, along with a half-baked romance between a down-on-his-luck baker and a zesty accountant. But even so, I doubt any high school cheerleaders would be screaming their heads off over a film focused on combining the roaring twenties with a children’s imagination.
Yet true to what the world of Harry Potter has always done, this historical setting is rich with culture. It turns out that unlike the United Kingdom, America has a different word for muggles; “No-Mags,” and their relationships align much closer to the Salem witch trials than simple racism. The two worlds between the wizards and No-Mags’ each look as captivating as they do true to the historical era, complete with a scandalous goblin singing at a bar.
Then in comes skimpy old Newt Scamander, played by the same British actor I previously mentioned. He arrives in New York City on the Fort Elizabeth, with a secret mission involving his magical briefcase. Just step inside his case, and you will see an immense world inside: room upon room housing some of the most fascinating beasts you will find. These include leafy little bowtruckles, a money-mad niffler, a mischievous demiguise, and a size-shifting occamy. Kids will love seeing these imaginative designs, but what they’re doing in a PG-13 movie I cannot say.
Teens would certainly not care about seeing these beasts anyway, as the special effects used to bring them to life is distractingly awful. Remember in the Harry Potter movies when computer generated imagery was only used when necessary? Now here, it is use in practically every frame for every scenario, even in places where makeup prosthetics would have gotten the job done easy. Think the entire Hobbit trilogy, except without any effort by the visual effects team.
These beasts have ended up under the hands of a No-Mag named Mr. Kowalski who has dreams of starting his own bakery. Yet he mistakenly lets the case open, and several of the beasts loose into the city. Now Newt has to bring him as a witness to protect his innocence from the National Astute of Secrecy, or else face serious criminal penalty for exposing the wizarding community to the No-Mags.
There are points here and there that reveal how a great movie could have been made, but for the greater portion, the blank performances by the majority of the cast send a preposterous message that says the law and government should not control us. If you ask me, these negative, limiting depictions of political authorities is way too common in our movie theaters, and our leaders deserve better treatment. Even worse, this predictable story is ruined all the more by a plot twist that adds nothing; literally nothing to the story.
Yet it doesn’t stop there. After a snore-inducing climax, the final moments try to emotionally manipulate you as if the filmmakers felt that they earned it somehow—they didn’t. Then they of course have to leave the final frame open for a sequel which I obviously will not be looking forward to.
If you think that Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is a dream come true for your inner witch or wizard, I hate to break it to you: look elsewhere. This attempt at keeping the franchise alive and fresh is only making it age all the more, and its attempted relational bonds between America and England does not feel any stronger either. I could really use a great motion picture that makes us people feel united in spite of differences in a world that wants us to feel otherwise, and this does not accomplish that.
As much as I did not enjoy this teen-targeted fantasy, I still was captivated by the fascinating designs of the creatures. They actually reminded me of the things I would draw as a child. Yes, I spent many hours in my grade school years drawing, and several of those drawings were of creatures like the ones you would see in this movie.
It led to my parents commonly asking me, “Where do you come up with these ideas?” I never liked to share my answer to this question, but now I’ll go ahead and tell you where I get ideas for my creations from.
Six-Word Lessons on Growing Up Autistic, Lesson #12: You Won’t Believe What They Think.
There was this children’s show I would watch every morning called Pappyland. It’s similar to Bob Ross in the scenario that it’s a show about an artist making his work. Except instead of painting “happy little trees,” the host of Pappyland would draw something on a simple sheet of paper with a pen, encouraging you to draw along with him. So every night before bed, I would set out a piece of paper with a pencil and my basket of crayons so that I would be ready for Pappyland the next morning at 6:30. Then, I would follow along with his drawing and coloring.
In addition, the show host would take letters of the alphabet or numbers or random scribbles and make a bird or a cat or a car out of that shape. I loved that imaginative creation from one familiar shape to something entirely different, so I did it myself. Except I would scatter the letters of a word or someone’s name on a piece of paper, and form some sort of picture out of the way I scattered the letters, often creating some bizarre creature or deformed person.
It may have been hard for others to understand where I got all my ideas from, but this was my way of getting the thoughts in my head onto paper as a form of self-expression. It was my way of saying, “hey, this is the way I look at things, and this is the way I interpret everyday things!”
Likewise, many others with autism can have this same sort of urge to get thoughts out onto paper in this way. That’s not to say that everybody on the spectrum has the ability to draw, they have the same range of artistic capabilities as most anybody would have. But there’s always something: knitting, splatter paint, sculpting, dressing, tattoos, food art, storytelling, journaling, collaging, scrapbooking, filmmaking, vlogging, and many, many more to express oneself.
We all have a way that we best express ourselves and the way we look at the world, but whomever lands on the autism spectrum has a method of expression that is not only unique, but vital to communication, especially if they are unable to speak.
But it doesn’t even have to be if they can’t speak, sometimes an aspie can simply be shy, as I was. Sometimes, they just find comfort in the privacy of their own imaginations, as I was.
Six-Word Lessons on Growing Up Autistic, Lesson #49: Autistic Children Have Trouble Sharing Thoughts.
We’re all familiar with how artists see their art as a form of self-expression, so maybe now we can look at people on the spectrum creating art as a way of communication. So the same types of creatures you may see your child drawing may be your child saying to you, “Hey, you know that squirrel we saw in the park yesterday? This is what I saw! Now are you amazed by me?”
- Take note when you see your autistic child pursuing his hobbies in his spare time. If he likes to draw, consider what he may be telling you through his doodles. If he likes to write, take a look at what he’s trying to say. This is not an invasion of privacy, and you’re not being a helicopter parent, it’s an effective way of tracking what goes on in your child’s head as a means of understanding him more clearly.
- If you are on the spectrum, think about how you primary interest can be used as a communication tool to help others understand you. This can be applicable to literally anything, so don’t be afraid to let your imagination run lose!
- Don’t ever put down on somebody who you may think is a “freak.” They may draw unexplainably weird creatures that mark them as an outcast from what you constitute as “normal,” but you also don’t know what goes on inside their head.
If there is a specific movie you’d like to see reviewed, please email me at Trevor@TrevorsViewOnHollywood.com for your recommendations.
Have a great weekend, and happy watching!
Cassidy, Mark. Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them Gallery. Digital image. We Got This Covered. Complex, Aug 2016. Web. <http://wegotthiscovered.com/movies/fantastic-beasts-find-will-feature-new-magical-abilities/>.
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. Warner Bros. Web. <http://www.fantasticbeasts.com/>.
Justin. #FantasticBeasts: Meet The 6 Magical Creatures In The “Harry Potter” Prequel. Hype. VIJANDREN RAMADASS, 15 Aug 2016. Web. <https://hype.my/2016/117408/fantasticbeasts-meet-the-magical-creatures-in-harry-potter-prequel/>.