Review of ‘Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them: The Original Screenplay’ by J K Rowling

I love the film but I didn’t intend to read the screenplay… until I watched the sequel, The Crimes of Grindelwald. I didn’t understand some of the plot, so I decided that reading the screenplay would help. Before reading the second one, I had to read the first.

The story is set in J K Rowling’s wizarding world, in 1920s New York. Newt Scamander, a wizard with a special affinity for magical creatures, is caught up in dark events happening in the city. With him are Tina Goldstein, a disgraced auror (part of magical law enforcement); her sister Queenie (a seductive witch who can also read minds); Jacob Kowalski (a No-Maj – non-magical person – who dreams of opening a bakery); and many fantastic beasts who live inside Newt’s suitcase (it’s bigger on the inside).

I wasn’t sure if I’d enjoy reading a screenplay. However, I needn’t have worried. This was an addictive read and was just like watching the film! The scenes are short, the action is in the present tense and there is the right amount of description. This all makes the book easy to read. There’s even a glossary of film production terms at the end, if you were wondering what ‘V.O.’ or ‘Ext.’ means. When watching a film, I tend to miss some of the details, especially when the action is happening quickly. The screenplay filled in these details and allowed me to understand the plot and characters better.

This is one of the few times when you have to watch the film before reading the book! The beasts are of course inspired by the Hogwarts School textbook, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (which Rowling originally published for charity, along with Quidditch Through the Ages – both of them very thin books). In the film, Newt has just finished writing the book and Tina gives him the idea for the title. I do think it would make a good novel as well… if you’re listening, J K Rowling.

13 thoughts on “Review of ‘Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them: The Original Screenplay’ by J K Rowling”

    1. I agree the 2nd film wasn’t as good. It was very dark compared with the humour of the 1st. I’m going to read the screenplay to understand the plot better.

  1. As a HP fan (sort of), I was so worried about this film coming out, but I enjoyed it immensely. I have not read this screenplay, though. Probably I will. Part of the reason I loved the movie is that I did not think they were changing the HP world much, and it was exciting to be introduced to all these new characters and animals. I cannot say the same re the new film. I consider it to be a total disaster in everything, especially in casting.

    1. If you love this film then I’m sure you’ll really enjoy the screenplay!
      It’s refreshing to be in the world of Harry Potter but to break free from stories based on the character of Harry Potter, if that makes sense.
      While I didn’t think the recent film was a total disaster, I could see it was flawed. I’ll be reading the screenplay soon…

      1. Johnny Depp does not have the subtlety to pull off Grindelwald, this cast is ridiculous, and Jude Law is no Dumbledore surely. When I first heard the news I thought it was a joke. Law auditioned to play Gilderoy Lockhart in the second HP film, when he did not land that, he was eager to get there eventually. Now, he did, but it could not have been more wrong.

        1. Maybe it was a case of putting the most famous actors in there rather than the most appropriate ones! I didn’t know Law auditioned for the part of Lockhart – I’m glad he didn’t get that, because Kenneth Branagh is Lockhart exactly.

  2. I loved the Fantastic Beasts film, and admittedly I was concerned that it would feel disconnected from the Harry Potter movies. I was so glad when I watched it and felt that it was very much still part of the world of HP. I might have to give the screenplay a read, great review! 😊 I want to see the new film, but wasn’t too impressed by the screenplay when I had a quick read in Waterstones.

    1. I’m sure you’ll love this screenplay! I understand your worry about the world of HP – I wasn’t sure about what I see as ‘spin-offs’ but I ended up liking them.
      I don’t think anyone likes the 2nd film as much. The tone is so much darker and the focus is on Grindelwald rather than the creatures. I’m going to read the screenplay, so look out for a review within in the next few months. Thanks for your comment!

    1. You’ll love the screenplay – I never considered reading it either, until the 2nd film confused me. Thank you 🙂

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