(Image from Barnes & Noble)
I think most readers would agree that:
(1) It's better to read the book before seeing a movie based on said book.
(2) With a few exceptions, the book is always better than its movie.
Am I right? Thought so.
Well, I adhere to Rule #1 the vast majority of the time since I prefer to "see" a book in my head before I view it on the Big Screen. Hollywood and I rarely see eye-to-eye, so this technique has served me well. I break this habit only on very rare occasions. A movie date with my California sister and our daughters over Thanksgiving weekend seemed like a legit reason, so I went to see Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them before reading the original screenplay by J.K. Rowling. The shock! The horror! Actually, since the film follows the published screenplay exactly, it wasn't that big of a deal. And you know what? I loved the movie. Loved it.
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them features Newt Scamander, a British magizoologist, who arrives in New York City in 1926 to perform a special mission. Obsessed with magical creatures, Newt carries a number of them in his suitcase. When Jacob Kowalski, a Muggle baker, accidentally opens the case, he sets the animals free. As Newt's precious creatures escape and wreak havoc on the city, he tries to convince the Magical Congress of the United States (MACUSA) that he can take care of the problem without any harm to either the creatures or American Muggles.
MACUSA is already struggling to manage magical-Muggle relations. It doesn't help that a dark force is causing trouble in the city. MACUSA assumes it's the work of one of Newt's creatures; Newt refuses to believe it. He thinks it's something much stronger, much more dangerous. With the help of Tina Goldstein, a disgraced Auror; her sister Queenie, a skilled Legilimens; and Kowalski, Newt must find the culprit in order to pacify MACUSA and save New York City. The job is a much more dangerous one than anyone could possibly have imagined ...
When I heard about J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter screenplays, I wasn't sure what to think. All Potterheads long for more from the HP universe, but I've been hoping for novels. It's only in this format that the real color, charm, and depth of Rowling's world-building can truly come alive, right? Right. Sort of. The Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them screenplay definitely lacks the fullness that would no doubt be found in a novel version. With short stage directions instead of meaty description, it's difficult to really visualize the setting, characters, and creatures that appear in the story (at least I assume this is true since I actually saw the film before reading the screenplay). What this format does offer is a reading experience that is fast, exciting, and unique. Readers— especially young, reluctant ones—who want to delve into the Harry Potter books but shy away from the weighty tomes might find this format more to their liking. It also helps that they can enjoy this story without having read any of the Harry Potter books. Personally, although I enjoyed reading Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, I would have preferred it in novel form. Still, this is a fun, magical tale that translates perfectly to the Big Screen. I loved both the written screenplay and the film version.
(Readalikes: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone; Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets; Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban; Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire; Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix; Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince; Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows; Harry Potter and the Cursed Child; Quidditch Through the Ages; and The Tales of Beedle the Bard)
If this were a movie (and it is!), it would be rated:
for brief, mild language, violence, and scary images
(Note: The actual movie is rated PG-13)
To the FTC, with love: I bought a copy of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them from Amazon with a portion of the millions I make from my lucrative career as a book blogger. Ha ha.
*Movie image from www.fandango.com