fantastic beasts

I know I’ve given the impression of a one-track cinema fan, but I’m not only going to review horror films here.

I’m sure there will be thrillers I’ll want to say some words about.

I’m very partial to crime movies.

And fantasy is close enough to horror that I’ll have some words to say there too.

Even fantasy kid movies like FANTASTIC BEASTS AND WHERE TO FIND THEM.

Some background: as yet I haven’t got around to reading any of the HARRY POTTER novels. (Perversely, I have read all of the CORMORAN STRIKES). I have however seen each of the films and, as they progress – basically, as the centre trio get competent and then even quite good at acting – the films do rise distinctly in quality.

I think though that I prefer FANTASTIC BEASTS to all of them.

It doesn’t have the self-seriousness of a HARRY POTTER, wearing its mythology much lighter on its sleeves. Watching it and chuckling away with my wife, it struck us that this might be a better introduction to the whole universe than the POTTER movies, when our baby daughter eventually develops a two hour attention span.

However, I think the film makers did miss a trick.

(Spoilers ahead, I’m afraid).

At the end, when the wizards rebuilt 1920s New York and oblivated the nomaj’s memories, rather than simply have them forget, wouldn’t it have been great if they’d instead convinced them that all the damage had been caused by a transported giant ape from Skull Island?

It would have been fantastic bringing together of two universes, but not in a way that suggested KING KONG was real, merely that he was created by wizards as a distraction device.

There’s already so much shared iconography: the 1920s/1930s NYC setting; the giant and destructive monster loose on the streets who just wants to be loved; and the character of Queenie, clearly style-modelled on Fay Wray.


Why not just go the full ape?

The whole thing would have been particularly appropriate as earlier we had a grand homage to the Peter Jackson version. It wasn’t the monster of the piece, true, instead one of the fantastic beasts – but we did get another sequence where a large incredible creature and the human object of its affection slid around together on a frozen lake in Central Park. In 2005 it was Naomi Watts and Kong, while in 2016 it was Dan Fogler and a giant rhino with both a metaphorical and literal flaming horn. The connection is clearly there.

Now I hated that scene in Peter Jackson’s KING KONG. It was an Indulgent and unnecessary overlong scene in what was an indulgent and unnecessary overlong remake.  But I now feel kind of glad it exists because I had so much fun when FANTASTIC BEASTS did their version.

Obviously the makers of KONG: SKULL ISLAND might have something to say about all of this, but I just hope that when the sequel to this arrives that it has a devilish confidence which lets it homage and reference all kinds of other franchises, no matter who might own the copyright.

My debut novel, THE WANNABES – which has been out of print for a little while – is now available for free! A supernatural thriller of beautiful actresses and deadly ambition in London town, it’s well worth your time. You can get your copy here!

One thought on “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (2016)

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