We’re two films into J.K. Rowling’s planned five-part Potter prequel series, and it’s fair to say that they haven’t captured the public’s imagination the way the adventures of a certain boy wizard did. This is in no small part due to the quality of the films themselves; more focused on imagining the 1920s version of Rowling’s fantastical world than telling compelling stories.
Where they do match the Potter series, however, is in their design. From the beautiful recreations of period New York and Paris, the minutiae of the magical world, to a menagerie of fantastic beasts, the films are clearly a labour of love for all concerned.
Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes Of Grindelwald: Movie Magic offers fans a chance to get a closer look at the astonishing level of detail that goes into bringing Rowling’s vision to life. After a fairly redundant ‘story so far’ recap (as if any self-respecting Potterhead hasn’t memorised every adventure to date), we’re thrown into a good look at the film. There are character and plot overviews along with a combination of everything from production photos and concept art to prop recreations (including the likes of invites for the launch of Newt Scamander’s book at Diagon Alley’s Flourish & Botts). There’s also a selection of stickers included so kids can decorate every last inch of their possessions not currently covered in Potter paraphernalia with pictures of Dumbledore and sticky Nifflers (not an euphemism).
There’s very little making-of information that wouldn’t be apparent to any semi-knowledgeable movie buff, but then they’re not the book's target audience. It’s aimed firmly at kids (we’ve heard spurious rumours that the Potter books are also, but yet to be convinced), and they’ll find a wealth of fun information here, and little bits of trivia to enhance their viewing. For example, the Philosohper’s Stone was recreated and sits in Nicholas Flamel’s Parisian apartment. Or that Nagini’s outfit contains subtle anguine qualities - a hint at her future.
There’s also - as you’d expect - a plethora of fantastic beasts, with photos and trivia on each. This includes a look at returning favourites such as Bowtruckles (Eddie Redmayne’s favourite) and Nifflers (everyone else’s favourite), plus the merchandising-friendly baby Nifflers (represented on set by rod puppets). They’re joined by a host of new creatures such as the Kelpie (part-based on squid, jellyfish and a horse) and Augrey (played on set by a less than convincing football with eyes).
Elsewhere, there’s profiles of both new and returning characters, a look at the recreation of Hogwarts, and new locations such as Circus Arcanus and the Ministère des Affaires Magiques – the Parisian equivalent of the Ministry of Magic. Again, these are replete with kid-friendly photos and trivia.
Like the film itself, Movie Magic is fun to look at, with a wealth of beautiful detail to enchant younger minds, but ultimately lacking in depth. For kids wanting a glimpse behind the curtain of their favourite franchise, this is ideal; if you’re after a proper look behind the scenes, you may want to look elsewhere.
FANTASTIC BEASTS: THE CRIMES OF GRINDLEWALD: MOVIE MAGIC / AUTHOR: JODY REVENSON / PUBLISHER: PENGUIN BOOKS / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW