7 THINGS THAT I’D LIKE TO SEE IN AN UPCOMING FANTASTIC BEASTS AND WHERE TO FIND THEM FILM

So here it is. The first Fantastic Beasts was a good effort for a first screenplay and a crowning achievement for the CGI team, but as a film it was… fine. It went on too long and wasn’t bad, but lets face it if it didn’t have the Potterverse brand it would be pretty much nothing. And yet we’re getting a load more of those films. So, what could help bring them up to scratch? Well here’s my top 7 things I’d like to see in the upcoming films. Warning, spoilers for Fantastic Beasts ahead.

1. A LOT OF COLLABERATION WITH OTHER SCREENWRITERS

Yeah, JK Rowling knows how to created a brilliantly set up mystery and well executed mystery, but cinema is a very different beast and though FBAWTFT was pretty good for a first screenplay, her lack of experience really shows. The aid of a more polished screenwriter would have gone a long way.

2.PAY FULL ATTENTION TO THE WORLD ENDING THREAT

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The biggest problem with Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them was that it didn’t focus on its main plot. It had one of the darkest moments in the entire franchise- the cruel death of an abused kid with learning difficulties- yet I felt nothing for him because the movie didn’t build that moment up. The main plot was relegated to the sidelines and seemed superfluous until the end of act three where we learnt it was the main plot.

Instead we got endless hijinks with magical creatures which went on for far longer than it needed to. Seriously, the film was less focused on the main quest less than I am when I’m playinjg The Legend Of Zelda. In fact, that’s what this film felt like! It was basically Scamander pissing around trying to round up all the Cucco’s and then thinking ‘oh yeah, Ganondorf Grindewald is trying to take over, better actually do something! Dubious deus ex machina away!’ At the last minute. I bet she could have made that work as a novel, but in the tighter confines of a screenplay it felt unfocused.

3. A SAVAGE EDITOR

Yeah, at least 10 minutes could have been cut from the gotta catch em all magical creature league. A really harsh editor would help. Maybe the lady who edited Fury Road? She did an excellent job and it sounds like she had her work cut out for.

4. BETTER FEMALE INCLUSION

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Poor ol’ Hermione. She really was the only female in class worth our attention.

Females often get sidelined in mainstream media (although this is greatly improving), so when you see female writers like Meyers , Rowling and Cassandra Claire create such lackluster female characters, you can’t help but think ‘why’?

Don’t get me wrong, Hermione was great (though mainly because the movies toughened up her character and transformed her from the nag who puts a damper on the boy’s fun to a badass whose friendship is valued equally to Ron’s). But she was the only central female until Luna came along. In the Harry Potter series, if you named the 10 most plot central characters (Harry, Ron, Hermione, Dumbledore, Voldemort, Snape, Sirius, Hagrid, , Draco, Neville), the only female you would get would be Hermione… okay and maybe Professor McGonagal, though all her importance comes from being Dumbledore’s 2IC. In Fantastic Beasts our two female leads included basically Scamander’s sidekick and another beauty who gets paired with an unattractive guy (because you shouldn’t judge on looks… if you’re a woman. Men get to choose mates based on looks all the time, but if women hold men to the same standard, they’re vain).

To be fair, all of the leads felt a bit one note throughout the film- except the muggle. But in future films I hope we have more active and complex female leads who are on par with the complexity of characters like Snape and Sirius Black.

5. MAKE UP FOR ITS LACK OF POC CHARACTERS

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The only thing even more abysmal than her track record for female characters is her track record for POC characters. While if you named the top 10 most plot vital characters you would get one female, you would not find a single POC on there. In fact, I’m not convinced that you’d find one on the top 20 most plot vital characters- as although Shacklebolt became Minister of Magic, lets face it, he was the least prominent Auror and didn’t make too much of an impact by himself. In FBAWTF we have a euthanist and an incompetent Black Boss, as well as some random background characters, and you really can’t pretend to say your series that tackles prejudice if your cast list is whiter than Trump’s cabinet picks. It sounds harsh, but true; allowing the audience to sympathise with the victims of prejudice only when its happening to someone like you does not challenge a damn thing.

Rowling, you are such a good ally on Twitter. Lets see that reflected in your films. Be the change you advocate. Give your POC fans the chance to finally see themselves in your universe, and give POC actors the chance to prove shine alongside their white counterparts. Who knows… perhaps we could have a daring Indian/ middle Eastern guy who could be a jerk with a heart of gold who one day could be future Aladdin.

6. TREAT DUMBLEDORE THE SAME AS YOUR LEADING STRAIGHT CHARACTERS

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Yoda once wisely said ‘do, or do not. There is no try.’

Either make Dumbledore’s sexuality a vital, represented part of his character the same way sexuality is important to every straight character in the Harry Potter and FBAWTFT series- or just say flat out it’s not going to happen.

If she doesn’t want to do that, then fine, stop giving LGBT fans false hope and stop with vague statements and taking credit for something that was scribbled on the character notes which failed to make it into the main story (which is what Word of God is).

7. KEEP UP THE BRITISHNESS

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With everything centred around North America and having to listen to the words ‘white picket fence’ over and over again (most boring fantasy ever), Hogwarts always was a breath of change and fresh air. It was just so British, and even if we’re with the North American wizarding world, a parallel world where the Americans are the grounded, level headed ones (come on, Americans, you know you deserve a bit of ribbing after voting in your new Commander In Tweet!) I hope it remains so.

BOOK REVIEW:SHORT STORIES FROM HOGWARTS OF HEROISM, HARDSHIP AND DANGEROUS HOBBIES- by JK Rowling

Yeah, the title here is completely misleading. These aren’t short stories- like I hoped- but a set of character notes on a couple of the characters, namely Proffessor McGonagall and Professor Lupin- detailing their biographies, their parents and their careers, plus some info on Trelawny and some guy called Kettleburn who I don’t think was more than a footnote in the series.

Whether this book will be of any interest of you depends on whether you’re one of the fans who wants to know every last detail of the series- and if you are that much of a die hard fan you’ve probably read most of the material on pottermore, but there are apparently some exclusives so I guess there’s reason to justify shelling out.

There are some interesting things here. It had a detailed spell for how to become an Animagus, which was pretty creative and I liked the fact that Professor McGonagall chose to keep her second name. With how extremely conservative the Wizard world appears to be, with how quick women seem to be to give up their careers to start a family in their early twenties -all of them- (goddamnit, what’s wrong with having a little life experience before marrying? And couldn’t someone set up a port key to a wizard primary school- doesn’t that might be practical? And why is it that even though you get taught to do cool stuff like shooting fireballs from your wand and teleport you will still most likely get stuck in a tedious office job? Damnit, this is like an anime where life ends after High School), it was nice that McGonagall provided an alternate point of view to that. It also kind of humanises her and explains why a fully grow woman would want to spend all her life living on a school ground and seemingly have no life outside teaching.

Likewise, the section on Lupin was interesting- and it would have been even more interesting if it had been made into a short story. The details about how their parents met, however, I couldn’t have cared less about.

But in my mind, it goes into ‘goddamnit, walk away Rowling, let me figure it out on my own’ territory when it blatantly explains McGonagall’s relationship with Harry. I mean, we can infer why Harry and the Proffessor got on so well from the text- and hearing that there had to be a ‘deeper reason’ for her affinity with him kind of took a little away from me.

The question remains, that with JK Rowling telling you every minute motivation, every little and spelling out all the information, telling you the definitive interpretation of a scene or character’s motivations, when does the work of a writer pass from author to reader? Does death of the author mean nothing?  Is show don’t tell become relevant when we can’t come to our own conclusions about anything when we’re getting spoonfed everything? Half the fun is drawing your own conclusions through the characters actions, and discussing your conclusions with fans- and often the fan interpretations can be even more intriguing than what the author’s come up with.

As a result, having everything told to you definitively takes a lot away from ones own reading experience. It’s why I typically try and keep away from Pottermore, though with everything JK says splashed all over the internet as if its the new gospel, the task becomes difficult.

For my own part, as much as I enjoyed the Harry Potter series, and as much as I genuinely think JK Rowling seems like a  wonderful person, I have to agree with my friends assessment of her when we were going to a live screening of The Room (the epitomy of cinematic achievement)

‘JK Rowling, I love her, I really do, she seems like a terrific woman, I just think she should let Harry Potter go.’

VERDICT: Make no mistake, there are no short stories in this collection, only character notes. Some of them are interesting, some not so much, and most of them are available for free on Pottermore, so I would only recommend this to the most die hard of fans who crave every last nugget of information on this world.

RATING: 2 plees from Elsa to ‘Let It Go’ out of 5