27.11.16

here lies harry potter (1997-2016)

(his creator killed him)

Let's get this out of the way: Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them isn't a particularly good film. It's like J.K. Rowling tried to combine the childlike whimsy of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone with the rather grown-up plots and characters of her Cormoran Strike novels. If that sounds like it wouldn't work -- well, it didn't work. Fantastic Beasts doesn't have a cohesive "feel": it never quite decides whether it wants to embody the spirit of its namesake book or be, uh, vaguely American Gothic? (Who knows, honestly?) Rowling also seems to have attempted to write a novel instead of a screenplay: Fantastic Beasts is full of throwaway dialogue that works beautifully as character development in her later, 800-page Harry Potter books, but that sort of thing doesn't work so beautifully in a two-hour film whose most interesting character is a Niffler.

Now, if you ask the Harry Potter fanbase, many of the eight Harry Potter movies aren't particularly good films either -- but the books they're based on are wonderful. After all, that's why Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone became a film in the first place. Fantastic Beasts is a blatant attempt to cash in on the franchise's enduring popularity, and its inspiration isn't a beloved children's story, but a spin-off book that was itself a blatant attempt to cash in on the franchise's popularity (for charity, so I won't complain too much). Like most mistakes, the Fantastic Beasts film would be forgivable if Rowling and Yates promised to never do anything like it again, but --

no lines, still best character

-- unfortunately for the franchise's already-battered integrity, there are going to be four more Fantastic Beasts movies. All because (see link) Rowling decided that "this feels like five movies," and that feeling "came out of the material." (For reference, the last thing that came out of Rowling's material turned into Harry Potter and the Cursed Child.) We're going to have to put up with Rowling's confused, cluttered screenwriting and Yates's faux-noir direction every other November for the next eight years. (And also the groan-inducing casting decision revealed at the end of the film.)

What does this mean? Well, I've never before used the phrase "put up with" in a sentence about Harry Potter. It means that the seven-book Harry Potter story Rowling ended quite nicely almost a decade ago is no longer something special -- Harry Potter fans can't look back fondly on our childhood fandom when we're spending most of our adult lives lives being confronted with increasingly mediocre attempts to cash in on that fandom.

It means, in short, that the magic is over.

(It didn't have to be this way, but Rowling, rich and famous as she is, proved that she's no different from the rest of them. Bill Watterson continues to stand very alone.)

You know what else we'll have to put up with every other (well, every) November for the next eight years? The anniversary of Donald Trump's ascent to the presidency! It will be a series of Novembers "cold as frozen iron," as Rowling herself described the month in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. (But only figuratively, because we all know that no progress will be made on climate change during that interval!)

1 comment :

  1. imo, the series died with the cursed child. seemed like cheap fanfiction with its lame plotline and horribly annoying characters.

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