Tuesday, 6 December 2016

Fantastic rubbish and why I disliked it


If you had it in your mind to think that this was the movie about the author of the much talked about textbook Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them, the widely appreciated magizoologist Newt Scamander, you can just do yourself a favour and toss that thought out the window.
   Let me tell you a thing:
   In the movie Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them we travel to the USA in the 1920's to sneak a peek at how the magical society's arranged outside of Europe. Here we get to follow the No-Maj (see also: 'muggle') Jacob Kowalski; a man stuck in a dead end job at a can factory but with grand dreams of eventually opening a bakery. Life is strange and the ginger man with the suitcase that Jacob runs into at the bank even more so, and suddenly he crashes head first into the magical world.

   This movie had no hook.
   In classic movie making you spend the first 20-30 minutes of a movie introducing characters and presenting the problem that will have to be solved or the mission that needs to be completed through the course of the movie. Example: Zootopia - meet Judy Hopps, the bunny who wants to be a cop. Within 10 minutes we know who Judy is and what her goals are. Within the next 10 minutes we know the problems she'll have to face and get past. Within a total of 30 minutes I know exactly who Judy is, what her motivations are and her mission for the remaining 60 minutes. There are of course exceptions (mostly sequels) and even though we're supposed to already know the world in which Fantastic Beasts is set, we really don't (because this is more of a bad reboot) and the characters are all new to us.
   What I'm referring to is called 'the hook' - it is what will draw us in to the story and make us interested in sticking with the characters for the duration of the movie. The hook should make us root for the main character.
   I had no fucking clue what the movie was about until well over an hour into the movie and even then it was mostly guesswork. I realised just how empty it was. It was a movie about nothing, with plenty of surface and nostalgic hints at something that used to be popular.

   This movie gave the main character no character.
   Newt Scamander was an empty shell of a man. We received no info about Newt's personality, his motivations nor his goals. It took us over 40 minutes to find out that Newt had a passion for magical creatures, something I would think should be vital for the story to move on. But no. When we had landed that lil' tidbit of info I was already way over this movie. The same void of info applies to his pal Tina Goldstein by the way. By the end of the movie I was struck by the fact that I had probably seen more of Eddie Redmayne's hair than his face. Interesting choice but hardly a good one.
   There was no character building going on, but then on the other hand there was absolutely no character traits to build FROM. What makes it really ironic is that the side character Kowalski was rather well-formed by the end of the movie; we knew his personality (sweet, kind and curious), his goals (open bakery) and the problems he has to face before that (no money, dead end job, ginger wizard with a suitcase full of strange creatures). We even knew more about Kowalski's background halfway through the movie than we knew about Newt's.

   I never rooted for Newt. I rooted for Kowalski.

   No chemistry between spouses.
   For some of us the Harry Potter books was an excellent chance to accumulate some History of Magic by heart. Newt Scamander and Porpentina 'Tina' Goldstein supposedly get married, procreate and eventually bless us with the presence of Loony Lovegood. Whatever love these two develop for each other, they do not develop it during the duration of this movie. There is no budding love between these two. There is nothing but a blank disinterest visible to the viewer.
   Is there a beautiful something going on between Kowalski and Queenie? Yes. Again, interesting choice but hardly a good one.

   There is a magic fix for everything.
   This movie would have us think that there are no limits; magic fixes anything, you can do anything and there is no cost of magic ...really? If there are no limits and no costs anyone could do anything and things get dull very quickly from there. I was appalled to find myself losing interest in a world than meant everything to me for so many years.
   J.K. Rowling, sweetheart, you need to have a talk with Brandon Sanderson about the construction of a believable system of magic. There used to be one. But you obviously lost it. Deal with that, please.

   Casual fatphobia.
   OK, so Newt can fit a fucking rhinoceros into his suitcase with ease but a chubby guy is too much of a fucking challenge? COME THE FUCK ON!! Lazy jokes does not a good movie make.

   And then there's Johnny fucking Depp.
   I'm not even going to start on how over-appreciated I think Depp has been for the last fifteen years. Ever since Pirates of the Caribbean Depp has played nothing but Jack Sparrow. All other characters have been Jack Sparrow pretending to be someone else. Add to that Depp's latest departure down Wife Beater Lane and I can't see how ANYONE felt it was a good idea to cast him in a Young Adult movie. The moment he entered the screen I laughed out loud in disbelief. I couldn't believe it even though I knew he'd be involved somehow and hadn't yet seen him on screen. It was absurd. I can't.

TL;DR: I'm not upset because I expected miracles from Fantastic Beasts. On the contrary, I expected disaster.
And I was still disappointed by the end credits.

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