“Fantastic Beasts & Where to Find Them”

landscape-1469310022-eddie-redmayne-fb.jpgI’m sorry, IMDB reviewers, but 7.9/10 for Fantastic Beasts & Where to Find Them?? Forget that. I’d give this disappointing, stretched-out, cgi-heavy prequel a 6.5 at the most, and that would be like giving a B- to a paper that should get a D.

I really cannot decide what annoyed me the most [SPOILER ALERT]: the scattered plot-line; the beasts in the suitcase which we chased around New York for far too long; the not-particularly-interesting-or-complex characters; Newt’s incoherent speech (yes, yes, I get that he’s diffident and British, but can we get some subtitles if he must talk out of the side of his mouth all the time?) or his adorable peering out of the thatch of hair throughout the movie; the breathless misery of Porpentina Goldstein; Jacob Kowalski’s perpetual nice-guy wide-eyed innocence; or the flutes and pipes that accompanied the appearance of various cgi fantastical beasts. The only bright spot for me was, ironically, Colin Farrell, really.

Rowling’s world remains deathly white, of course. (She says it’s not all white. Um.) Of the three black people who leave us utterly unimpressed, one is a scary stereotypical mammy-type witch character who actually says to Tina, just like a black mammy-witch: “Oh honey it don’t hurt none” as she prepares to – well, kill her? The other main POC is the President who, until her apologies in the end, is a huge pain in the ass for the good guys. There’s also a singer in a speakeasy. That’s about it. Oh, wait. There’s a photograph of Zoe Kravitz in there too. Thanks so much for the tokens.

The one good thing that emerges from the movie is the message that hate is a destructive power. As my kid said, the obscurial is a visual representation of what happens when people can’t be who they are. When people are hated, stigmatized, and forced into hiding by ignorant and evil people (HELLO TRUMP’S AMERICA), this stigma becomes a destructive and unstoppable force. And yet, despite this message of inclusivity, the story remains utterly White and heteronormative. It’s White liberal.

Maybe I am especially irritable as I have, during the past week or so, struggled to wade through several acts of Harry Potter & the Cursed Child. Maybe, just maybe, it is time to stop milking the franchise until writers have something substantive to offer. Until then, maybe quit relying on stretched out, cutsie stories with two-sentence plot narratives and a blast of CGI. Maybe just sit back and gather the cash that’s already flooding from the existing products. For my part, if IMDB reviewers hadn’t misled me, I would have waited till the movie came out on Redbox for $1 or so. I keep hoping to be wrong, but the truth remains that actual good movies are only made every 5-7 years or so. So I’ll just quit spending on theater tickets and parking garages, and instead enjoy watching re-runs of The IT Crowd. 

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