Tag Archives: J K Rowling

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

This was absolute bliss. Whereas it is generally ‘quite nice’ to revisit a film and its characters, the concept of J K Rowling’s Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them beats most that I have seen. Even though I obviously read the book [by Newt Scamander] however many years ago it was published, almost as an afterthought, the new film is such a tremendous bonus!

It’s something you didn’t see coming, separate but still belonging to Harry Potter’s world, and it couldn’t have been better. I never thought of Newt Scamander as anything but an obscure historical character, with an interest in animals. The film about Newt shows how wrong I was, and how Rowling’s magic just carries on and on.

As someone said the other day, it’s rather a relief to have a film like this with almost no children in it. It meant we could see Muggles and Wizards in the New York of 1926 as it might have appeared in just about any film; it was all about adults going about their business, which in Newt’s case was rescuing creatures at risk, and trying to teach other magic people that the beasts have a place in the world too.

Kowalski, the wannabe baker Muggle, was a Rupert Grint kind of man. Quite ordinary but also quite brave and someone who adapted well to the seemingly crazy world of magic. The two main female characters, sisters Tina and Queenie, were just as intelligent, kind and beautiful as you needed them to be. And Eddie Redmayne’s Newt was mysterious and enthusiastic and kind, with a nice sense of humour towards his ‘walking stick insects’ and dragons and all the other creatures.

The bad guy was so charmingly bad that you almost believed he might be all right. And the remaining characters made for a rich background.

Isn’t it wonderful how you can have a spin-off like this from a ‘mere’ children’s publishing sensation? Something so good and fun and mature, which wasn’t born from the usual film mould?

I don’t often float away from cinemas, especially not in the middle of the night. But I did this time. And I felt happy.

(Also published on Bookwitch.)

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, part 2

Snape

The wait was shorter than it seemed. We went for the first local screening of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, part 2 to get in before school ended for the day and especially to avoid the end of term.

The cinema had actually been screening the other Harry Potter films in the days leading up to The Day, which is good for people needing reminding, or even for the unlikely person who has never bothered but who has suddenly seen the light and wants to join in, however belatedly. I could have done with it myself as far as part 1 was concerned. Barely remembered how far we’d got or what had happened.

Hermione, Ron, Harry and Ollivander

It didn’t even feel too much as if we began in the middle, for a film that began in the middle. Dobby is dead and Harry is sad. And determined to get going with the remaining Horcruxes. More Polyjuice to get into Gringotts, and Hermione as a polite Bellatrix was a sight to see. Not so sure about Harry’s face-dive into Snapes’s memories, but it was necessary for the plot.

Neville

Harry and Ron and Hermione do a good enough job, but the winner of both book and film has to be Neville Longbottom. Who’d have thought he’d turn out so well? Maggie Smith as McGonagall is also a sight for sore eyes, along with her comfortable Scottish accent. I know I shouldn’t make too much of a relatively small part, but I’m just so grateful she survived. Maggie Smith, I mean. After the first film I had this sudden witchy premonition that someone wasn’t going to make it, and the faces that flashed before me were hers and Richard Harris’s.

It’s actually a major feat that they could make so many films with child actors and have them ‘all’ there at the end. I know one or two have fallen by the wayside, but other than that it’s worked well. Thought Crabbe had had a colour change, but he appears to have been written out.

Ginny and Mr Weasley

I was surprisingly touched by the deaths, which is more remarkable for them not really happening on screen. We see everyone dead afterwards. I’d almost go so far as to say that not enough is made of those deaths. Could be they want to skirt the issue in order not to upset young viewers, but you could easily miss quite how many dear ones perish.

But I suspect that’s not why the Retired Children’s Librarian had read in her paper that ‘people will be sad’. I think they meant ‘what will we all do now that Harry Potter is over?’ Yes, what will we do? This kind of thing is never coming back.

(Photos © Warner Brothers Entertainment Inc)

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, part 1

We were afraid it’d turn into one of those occasions when we just never get there; what with so many things conspiring against us and deciding they were more important than the new Harry Potter film. But hardy as we are, Daughter and I, we crawled out of bed for the early Sunday screening, three weeks into the HP season.

I don’t think we’ve ever been this late before.

The HP films have been an uneven lot, but I can safely say I liked this one. Unfinished though it was. If you didn’t know better, you’d think Voldemort had won. (He hasn’t, has he?)

Robbie Coltrane and Daniel Radcliffe, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, part 1 - © Warner Brothers Entertainment Inc

People die. Not so many in part one, so more of the fun will have been saved for next time. I don’t care much for the snake. S’cuse me, Nagini. A little bit on the hungry side for my comfort.

Nice scenery, with plenty of Geology for the student next to me. Some silly romance stuff. A Mr Darcy moment (he’s still too young for us to lust after!).

If it weren’t for the fact that Hermione should be not pretty, I have to admit to having been won over by Emma Watson, and it’s not something I say lightly. Rupert Grint on the other hand…

I need a handbag like Hermione’s. And I love the tent, even if I couldn’t cram it into that handbag. That girl can really pack. Oh, it’s magic? Never mind, she can still pack, and she knows what will come in handy.

Rupert Grint and Daniel Radcliffe, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1 - © Warner Brothers Entertainment Inc.

That tedious Polyjuice from book two certainly comes into its own here, disgusting though it is. Daughter enjoyed the film as a film, but had to go and point out quite how many changes they’ve done and how some things aren’t even in the book! Fancy that. Luckily I only read the book once, so I don’t recall every minutest detail, making me ever so tolerant.

I think I would like to re-read all seven books. So if Emma Watson could Polyjuice me some extra time over Christmas? Thank you.

Daniel Radcliffe and Emma Watson, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, part 1 - © Warner Brothers Entertainment Inc.

Am still very fond of the Phelps twins, i.e. Fred and George, and that will end in tears. I know. Also find Evanna Lynch really successfully flaky as Luna. Slightly disconcerting to have the Queen Mother – aka Helena Bonham Carter – as the beautifully menacing Bellatrix.

I’m all for them having divided the last book into two films. It’d be mad not to have done so. But I would have liked to have access to both parts within a shorter period of time. We finished on a (sort of) cliffhanger of a different kind than what you get in proper series of books/films.

(This post co-published with Bookwitch.)

(Photos © Warner Brothers Entertainment Inc.)