I went to see Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them late Thursday night and I picked up the screenplay at Barnes & Noble yesterday afternoon (yes, I have already finished reading it).
Harry Potter has been enormously significant in my life. Growing up, I read the books more times than I can count and these days I often have the audiobooks playing over my earphones. From the D.A.C. (Dumbledore’s Army Continued, a club that my friends and I started in second grade) to Harry Potter-related memes that I encounter online, it has been my cultural touchstone. The Mysterious Ticking Noise is the first video I can remember watching on YouTube (I recall feeling extremely anxious that my friend was showing me something vaguely pornographic when Dumbledore’s clothes disappeared). A few years later, dorky middle schoolers would gather around YouTube again to laugh uproariously at A Very Potter Musical. Even after the publication of The Deathly Hallows, the Harry Potter fandom continued to build a strong community in cyberspace. I do not actively participate in these groups, but I am impressed by the impactful charitable initiatives and strong support systems they have produced.
The last few months have been HUGE for Harry Potter fans! We returned to the Wizarding World with The Cursed Child and now with Fantastic Beasts. Re-experiencing the excited anticipation of childhood with my wonderful college friends is so much fun. We have sat around the Barnes and Noble floor filling out Harry Potter crossword puzzles and coloring in pictures, waiting for midnight and the release of a new book.
My favorite addition to the Harry Potter world this year is actually neither of the physical books sitting on my shelf, but the three sitting on my iBooks bookshelf. The Pottermore Presents books Short Stories from Hogwarts of Heroism, Hardship and Dangerous Hobbies, Short Stories from Hogwarts of Power, Politics and Pesky Poltergeists, and Hogwarts: An Incomplete and Unreliable Guide feel more comfortably familiar than either The Cursed Child or Fantastic Beasts. To be honest, I am not really looking for new content because I am so unreasonably enamored with the original canon. These three e-books celebrate and further explore the Hogwarts I know and love.
The Cursed Child presents much more newness than I had anticipated or wanted. I wish it left the past in the past. I am sure that as a play it is spectacular (and I would LOVE to see it someday), but as a book it comes off fan fiction-y (and I have read stronger continuations written by fans). I liked learning about the professional lives of Harry and his classmates and about his children’s experiences at Hogwarts, but I did not care for the plot. *SPOILER ALERT* While I recognize it would have made for a much less interesting play, I wish the Time-Turner/Voldemort’s secret daughter mess had been left out. The story would have held my rapt attention just exploring the tension of Albus’s placement in Slytherin.
Fantastic Beasts is fanciful and exciting. I am in love with the charming creatures (and Eddie Redmayne). It feels a little darker, but as a more mature audience member I appreciate the added complexity. There is enough new magic to create a sense of wonder and to make me want to skip and twirl and while away this weekend daydreaming. Hurray for four more Fantastic Beast movies and scripts to look forward to!