Book + Movie Review – Fantastic Beasts

Title: Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (The Original Screenplay)

Author: J. K. Rowling

Genre: Fantasy

Published by: By Little, Brown Book Group on November 19th, 2016

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars


(taken from the cover)

When Magizoologist Newt Scamander arrives in New York, he intends his stay to be just a brief stopover. However, when his magical case is misplaced and some of Newt’s fantastic beasts escape, it spells trouble for everyone…


As I was reading through the book, each scene kept playing in exquisite detail inside my head and it felt exactly like watching the movie again. Also, reading the screenplay makes one realise just how well the actors have portrayed each character. I also felt like I understood Tina’s and Credence’s character better as I read. A few things that escaped my notice while watching the movie became clearer, which made me appreciate the world-building even more. I can’t review this book further without reviewing the movie itself, so let’s move on to that.

Cast and Characters:
If you’ve watched the movie, you know that Eddie Redmayne is perfect as Newt. If you haven’t watched it, I’m here to tell you that Eddie Redmayne is perfect as Newt. He’s captured the shy, socially awkward and curious characteristics of Newt Scamander so very well. Tina’s character was a bit of a let down for me. She’s an Auror, described as ambitious, but really is timid, hesitant and more awkward than Newt in the movie. I hope we see a growth in her character in the coming movies. Queenie is ADORABLE. She’s sweet, charming, resourceful and has an innocent look about her that is instantly lovable. She’s also outgoing and smart, even though a lot of people notice her for her looks and might underestimate her. Jacob Kowalski is easily the most endearing Muggle No-Maj in the world. He’s a man with a dream who is whisked away into the magical world by Newt and his problematic suitcase, but handles it rather well. After Harry’s horrible Muggle relatives, Jacob is one normal guy everyone would like. The other No-Majs, especially the Barebones family, are disturbing and mysterious, each in their own way, with some amazing casting. Colin Farrell was excellent as Percival Graves. He understood his character well and hit all the right notes, so to speak.

Plot and Setting:
I’m not sure I understand why Rowling chose to tell this story from Newt’s perspective, but as a fan of Harry Potter, I have complete faith in her storytelling abilities and will reserve my judgement on this until more movies are made. There’s a smaller plot involving Newt and his creatures and a larger, overarching plot with a darker tone, mainly about Grindelwald’s reign of terror. The movie shifts focus from one to the other, but the tension is maintained throughout and I really enjoyed that. It’s very clear that the smaller plot is meant to be on the lighter side with many comic moments, whereas the larger plot, especially shot in darker backdrops, is meant to be the more serious of the two. I liked how one tied into the other and sped up the plot to its climax with a bittersweet ending.

The setting is as perfect as Eddie Redmayne’s Newt. The magical and non-magical New York collide and rub against each other, leaving a trail of mass destruction and death is of special note. Newt’s case, however, is the most interesting of all. It literally transports you to a whole new magical world, which won me over in a trice.

Special Effects:
I watched the movie in 3D and that is the best way to enjoy the movie because the special effects are brilliant and deserve a huge round of applause. The beasts were, as promised, FANTASTIC. The Niffler, Pickett the Bowtruckle, the lady Erumpent, the Swooping Evil, the Demiguise, the Occamy, Frank the Thunderbird – I hope I got them all because they’re as important as the cast. I loved each and every one of them as they had such different and fun personalities and created some truly hilarious moments, especially the Niffler.

The movie is worth everyone’s time, more so if you are a fan. Adults might find relating to the grown-up characters easier than Harry, so definitely give it a try even if you didn’t like Harry Potter as much. Highly recommended for animal lovers and the Hagrids of this world.

I would like to add that you should definitely watch the movie first and then read the screenplay to fully appreciate it. For those of you who have watched but are hesitating to read this, it is definitely worth the read, especially if you love Rowling’s Wizarding World and her style of writing.