Why Newt Scamander is a Fantastic, Yet Underrated Hero

newt scamander in fantastic beasts where to find them crimes of grindelwald
Not the usual male protagonist, but my new favorite hero.

Not every hero has to fit the typical mold we’re so very used to in epic storytelling. It’s always either the manly man’s man who is the big, strong, authoritative handsome guy, like Thor and Captain Kirk. (This really doesn’t even have to be a man — look at fighters like Black Widow and Wonder Woman — but we’re going to focus this piece on men, because it’s specifically about Newt Scamander from the Wizarding World’s Fantastic Beasts series.)

Or the protagonistic hero is frequently The Chosen One, who is “Called to the Quest” by nature of birthright or a unique ability, like Harry Potter himself, Luke Skywalker of Tatooine, Paul Atreides of Dune, Neo from the Matrix, or even pint-sized Frodo of the Shire.

Some men like Thor, Hercules, and King Arthur fit both the strong fighting man and Chosen One categories. It’s a very well-worn premise. These heroes fit the archetype most clearly defined by Joseph Campbell’s Journey of the Hero.

The third most common kind of male hero is a leader by nature of being the smartest, most talented guy in any room, like Captain Picard, Dumbledore, Gandalf, or Dr. Strange.

There’s also a fourth common heroic category: the lovable rogue with a heart of gold. Mal from Firefly, Han Solo of Star Wars, and Starlord from the Marvel Universe nestle right in there.  Iron Man may be more smartass than badass, but he fits the mold, along with being super smart like Dr. Strange (and to wit, in his words: genius, billionaire, philanthropist.)

I freely love these heroes, these ‘accepted’ stereotypes. I grew up adoring them and never thought much about it before.

So what about the humble, good-natured, perhaps shy man, exhibiting gentleness and compassion? His skill sets usually don’t include fighting; he isn’t of noble birth, and is actually not interested in the big events of the world except as they effect his personal goals: in Newt’s case, communing with and conserving the endangered magical creatures of the world first, and secondly, to find his girlfriend and help her (she is the one actually interested in fighting Grindelwald).  I’m not sure he even believes in evil at all: he says he doesn’t choose sides, and twice ignores Dumbledore’s behest to take the safe house card in Paris.

I think an attempt was made in Fantastic Beasts: the Crimes of Grindelwald to have Dumbledore retcon Newt into being a sort of Chosen One, in the mold of Frodo Baggins (“You’re a man with no lust for power, so you’re the only one who can do this…blah blah bah” I was pleased to see Newt still wanted none of it).

This video below by Pop Culture Detective came highly recommended to me by several RunPee fans, most of them, happily, from men. And it’s AWESOME.

If you read the comments, it’s clear there’s room out there for exactly this kind of protagonist among the male gender. I applaud every bit of it. I’ve loved Newt Scamander as a new kind of protagonist as soon as I realized his social awkwardness likely stemmed from a bit of Asperger’s Syndrome: he approaches people (save his very, very few friends) in the same way one would a dangerous animal, in a submissive posture with almost no eye contact. And yet he comes alive most when he’s loving on the fantastic beasts in both the magical suitcase and his wonderful zoo-like apartment. Freddy Redmayne is astounding as Newt. The video below shows a few clips that can’t not make you go Awwwwwww.

I hope Newt isn’t marginalized as the series plows on. We have three more films of which he is the intended main character. But from his unusual nature, even JK Rowling worries he might be pushed aside for more typical male heroes to assume the center spot.

Do you believe we have room in the world of epic genre entertainment for a gentle, quiet, and unassuming male figure to remain in the center of political intrigue, wizardly power plays and world-dominating plots? Do you like Newt at all? Please use the comments section below.

 

Jill Florio

Co-Creator of RunPee, Chief of Operations, Content Director, and Managing Editor. RunPee Jilly likes galaxy-spanning sci fi, superhero sagas, fantasy films, YA dystopians, action thrillers, chick flicks, and zany comedies, in that order…and possesses an inspiringly small bladder. In fact, that little bladder sparked the creation of RunPee. (Good thing she’s learned to hold it.)

Why Fantastic Beasts 2 is not so Fantastic

poster for Fantastic Beasts the Crimes of Grindelwald
Who are all of these PEOPLE?

I feel like a guilty Gryffindor, A Harry Potter heel, and a bad geek, because I have such confused thoughts about Fantastic Beasts: the Crimes of Grindelwald. I’m supposed to love it: I’m a crazy fan for everything Harry Potter. I even came around on the first Fantastic Beasts & Where to Find Them — which I had mixed feelings about originally . So, surely it will be the same for me on Crimes of Grindelwald, right? Right??

Truth be told, while my immediate review/reaction was less than stellar, I liked it a WHOLE lot more on my 2nd and 3rd viewings. I considered changing my review, and even bumped it up a few grades. But I still couldn’t shake the feeling there was a lot inherently wrong with CoG. It reminded me, unfortunately, of my experience viewing  Star Wars: The Last Jedi, another very pretty but deeply flawed movie. Yikes.

So I sat on it and let things digest in my brain, avoiding other people’s reviews. Until last night. That’s when I took to You Tube to see if my perspective was just dead wrong. WARNING: SPOILERS FOLLOW for Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald.

Turns out: no. I mean, I’m right. The other Potterheads are just as confused and butt-hurt too. Attached are some of the best video breakdowns of why CoG failed, based on impossible inconsistencies within JK Rowling’s OWN canon, in small part — and in just weird cinematic storytelling, in large part.

large cast in fantastic beasts 2
This isn’t even everyone.

To wit: who ARE all these characters? Why should we care about the endless in-depth backstories and reveals of folks we’ve never met, some of which die right there in the same film? In Avengers: Infinity War, by comparison, it took 18 films to earn their immense casting roundup. In-Universe, The climactic Battle of Hogwarts was full of characters we knew and loved — absolutely LOVED, and died, and #YesDamnYouJK for breaking my heart there.

It doesn’t help that CoG undid the main emotional beats of the previous film in the second (also recalling The Last Jedi. #WTG).

As for the eponymous Grindelwald, we don’t get to see a lot of actual crimes. He orders the killing of one family (and their toddler child, which, yes, bad)…and, um, boots his faithful lizard to its death out the prison carriage for the ‘crime’ of being affectionate…and, hmm. Escapes from  prison, sort of, though it seems he maybe wasn’t in it…? The whole breakout scene was unclear. He bothers to save the life of one of his jailers, which I found a nice enough gesture.  He also holds a rally protesting the Holocaust. This is the most evil wizard of his generation, the Big Bad before Voldemort?

man with the eye parasite in Crimes of Grindelwald
“Tentacles”: I don’t remember his deal, either.

While Johnny Depp was never my first choice to play Grindelwald, he wasn’t awful in the part. I think the main flaws in CoG, which are legion, is that half the film was devoted to useless flashbacks and — let’s face it — underwhelming and/or incredibly contrived reveals. Who is Corvus?  (I’ll do you one better: WHY is Corvus?) What is the incredibly tangled Lestrange family tree about and why should we care? Who is Tentacle Guy  — do you remember he was in this film and what his purpose was?

Then there’s this: Credence is a Dumbledore? How does this in any way make sense? It’s like everyone is a Skywalker, all over again.

Even Queenie and Jacob, so reliable in the first Fantastic Beasts, were poorly used here. I see what Rowling was after with Queenie’s arc, but the logic doesn’t stick. You’ll see what I mean in the videos.

Where the film DID shine was three-fold: I continue to love and admire Newt, the fantastic beasts themselves were still a joyous addition to the lore, and Jude Law’s Dumbledore was note-perfect. And I love being among wizards again, especially at Hogwarts, albeit briefly. (Also, Tina’s eyes are like a salamander’s, which is a little bit true, and very cute, and if you think about Newt Scamander’s whole name, it’s essentially “Salamander Salamander”, so Awwwww.)

a cute salamander
How Newt Sees Tina

With no further opinionated grumblings from me, here are the best five reviewer videos breaking down and backing up my fretful thoughts on Fantastic Beasts 2:  (PS: start with the excellent SuperCarlin Brothers, and work your way down. All these videos will take a while to view, and I put them in order of insightfulness in my ranking scale. Your mileage may vary.)

What did you think of this second-of-five installment of Fantastic Beasts? We’ve got a comments section below: please use it.

Lastly, if you’re still reading, here are our RunPee reviews on the two films thus far:

Movie Review – Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald

Fantastic Beasts 2 Review from a Harry Potter Novice

Movie Review: Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

 

Jill Florio

Co-Creator of RunPee, Chief of Operations, Content Director, and Managing Editor. RunPee Jilly likes galaxy-spanning sci fi, superhero sagas, fantasy films, YA dystopians, action thrillers, chick flicks, and zany comedies, in that order…and possesses an inspiringly small bladder. In fact, that little bladder sparked the creation of RunPee. (Good thing she’s learned to hold it.)

Movie Review – Green Book

 

Movie Review - Green BookGreen Book was amazing! Everything about this movie was awesome. The acting, the story, the conclusion, it all had me seeing stars. I’ve not enjoyed a movie this much in a very long time. Every person in America needs to see this movie. It simply touched my heart in a way that movies haven’t been doing lately.

Viggo Mortensen and Mahershala Ali deserve every award out there. These two guys together are dynamite! Their chemistry was so intense that it oozed off of the screen.

I can’t express this enough — the ticket price will be worth it. If you’re looking for a holiday movie, go see this one. You won’t be disappointed.

Grade: A+

About The Peetimes: There is nonstop dialog and character development throughout the entire movie. I’m going to recommend the second Peetime since it was shown in the trailers.

There are no extra scenes during, or after, the end credits of Green Book. (What we mean by Anything Extra.)

Christene Johnson (RunPee Sis)

RunPee.com owes RunPee Sis a huge debt of gratitude. She sees any movie needed with no complaints and has done so for ten years (even basing Thanksgiving and Christmas family festivities around the seeing films). In 2015 Sis ran the entire RunPee enterprise herself, while RunPee Dan, Jilly and Mom went traipsing off to Europe. Sis is the spider in the web holding the RunPee family together — besides being a funny, well rounded person, and a joyous pleasure to be around. Her favorite films start and end with horror (which thank goodness she’s happy to see, since most of us don’t have the stomach for it) — but also likes silly comedies, sad dramas, and musicals of all types. If you’ve used a Peetime for a scary film, you probably have RunPee Sis to thank for it.

Favorite movie genre: Horror, horror, and more horror. The more disturbing, the better. Period.

Bio

Movie Review – Creed II

Movie Review - Creed III really enjoyed this movie. I had very high expectations and lots of excitement when I walked into the theater, and I think this movie delivered on all of those expectations. I think this movie kept a lot of new fans from Creed I, but  also tapped into the older fan-base from Rocky IV.

This movie was similar to the Rocky movies, but is trying to become its own thing. We can see that in the scenes when Rocky doesn’t stand in the spotlight with Adonis. I think that’s a good indicator that the directors and writers are trying to make a separation between this second generation and the parent movies of Rocky.

I think what makes a Rocky movie so memorable has a lot to do with what’s happening outside of the boxing storyline. From the proposal, to the pregnancy, to the early fatherhood challenges, I think this movie had a lot of moments that touched the hearts of the audience.

I think the part about Creed II that I had never seen in a previous Rocky movie was the portrayal of the opponent, which in this case was Viktor and Ivan Drago. The movie starts out with scenes of them, instead of scenes of Adonis and Rocky. I think throughout the movie there were very important scenes of Viktor and Ivan that help the audience understand what this fight meant to them. For me, it made me feel compassion for Viktor and Ivan Drago. For Ivan, this fight was his way of redeeming himself from the defeat against Rocky.

In this movie, we see that there was a lot of fall out due to that loss. Ivan experienced separation from his country, his wife, and all those who supported him before he lost against Rocky. It seems that Viktor was raised with a singular goal in mind–redeem the honor of his father and win back his mother into their lives. I truly did feel for Ivan Drago because this fight was more about him than it was about Viktor. Viktor had no personal motivations for this fight except those of his father. I think the reason this movie decided to show empathy towards Viktor and Ivan is because they are not the real antagonists of the film. The real antagonist of the film is Viktor’s mother and Ivan’s former wife. Towards the end of the movie, Ivan decides that the life of his son is more important than the support of his country.

Overall this was a great movie; I like the alternative views it had and I’m excited to see what’s in store for Adonis Creed in the future. I’m also interested to see what is in store several years down the line for his daughter–Amara Creed. I think people believe she won’t be a boxer due to being born deaf, but based on the scene with her watching Adonis return to the boxing gym, I don’t believe that will stop her.

Overall: I think, as usual, both the acting of Michael B. Jordan and Sylvester Stallone were great. I would recommend this movie to anyone. I’m a true Rocky convert. It’s worth it to see it in theaters.

Grade: A-

About The Peetimes: It was easy to find 4 good Peetimes that didn’t interfere with the great boxing scenes or the relevant story line.

There are no extra scenes during, or after, the end credits of Creed II. (What we mean by Anything Extra.)

Shani Ogilvie

Watching movies in theaters is an indescribable experience for me. This, doing laundry, and visiting the Container Store bring me true joy. When I’m not watching movies or getting Peetimes, I like keeping up with the latest technology, learning to code, and building things. Career wise, my passion lies with improving access and equity within the health, tech, and social sectors.

Fantastic Beasts 2 Review from a Harry Potter Novice

dumbledore, newt scamander, and grindelwald go head to head
A sort of love triangle

I’m not a Harry Potter fan. Don’t get me wrong; I like the stories. I think they are rich and compelling. But I’ve never read the books — it’s on the list — and I personally wouldn’t bother seeing any of the movies on opening weekend if it wasn’t my job.

I’m only setting the stage for where this review is coming from, because a movie review, or any review for that matter, isn’t about the thing being reviewed, it’s about the relationship between the writer and the object of the critique. If you share something in common with the reviewer, then perhaps you’ll share a similar relationship with the object of comment.

What I liked
Grindelwald is a great villain. He’s a freedom fighter. Not out for personal aggrandizement, at least not yet, but for the betterment of all. He’s only a villain because the Ministry — the centralized power — says he is. Honestly, if I were a wizard listening to him speak, I’d be on his side too. We’ll maybe not on his side, but definitely opposed to the Ministry.

JK Rowling consistently projects an air of self importance on the Ministry, who ends up as an obstacle to the heroes and is always lead by a bunch of incompetent sycophants. If she consciously writes that as a reflection of her own government, then I wonder what she must think of the US government…

OMG, I just realized: Trump is Dolores Umbridge. Sadly, the world makes a little more sense.

Rowling weaves a rich tapestry of characters and conflict over a framework of a masterfully created fantasy world. It’s not flawless, but so nearly so, that I’d feel it next to sacrilege to mention any trivial shortcomings. Let’s just say no one alive does it better. (Something I wouldn’t have been able to say just last week. #StanLeeRIP)

What I didn’t like
There are a LOT of characters and it’s hard to keep everyone, along with their relationships, straight. But it doesn’t help at all when so many lines are squashed under background noise or run over by music. Did the director/editors not listen to the dialog? Maybe they didn’t notice how unintelligible so many lines were because they were privy to the script, and just mentally filled in the auditory blanks. I was in a theater with state of the art Dolby sound and at least half a dozen times I had to wonder what on Earth a character said.

I really wish I had rewatched the first Fantastic Beasts before seeing The Crimes of Grindelwald because I spent most of the movie lost trying to remember what exactly was going on in the character relationships: wait, she likes him, and he likes her, but something happened — I can’t remember what, and why are those two characters looking at each other like that? Is there something going on between them that… oh, right, now I remember… wait, no that was the other girl who… Screw it. I give up. Just show some more fantastic beasts.

So yeah, warm up for CoG by rewatching the first FB.

Creator of RunPee. Aspiring author.

The Deadpool Before Christmas – A PG-13 Version: New Footage, New Film

Remember, he sees you when you're sleeping.
Be good this year, kids, or you’ll get something very naughty in your stocking.

Santa Claus has a super duper maxi big treat for us this Christmas, with an almost-new Deadpool 2 arriving in theaters on December 21. Ryan Reynolds is back in the red suit, just like Santa, re-shooting 15 minutes of original footage, dubbing creatively subversive, yet clean lines for the “new” film — even adding a brand new character to his pantheon. We’ve got a good idea who this could be, which I’ll get to in a moment.

According to ComingSoon.net, screenwriters Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick recently took part in an interview with /Film…and shared what the writers had to say about the upcoming Deadpool 2 PG-13 cut.

“We definitely shot new stuff,” revealed Wernick. “And recently too. After Deadpool 2 came out and we were all sitting around, we came to it less about the idea of let’s make a PG-13 movie and more, ‘Let’s talk a little bit about Deadpool.’ We were kicking around some ideas and then I think it was Ryan [Reynolds] who had the great framing device and we all got excited and went to the studio. They said, ‘Yeah, let’s do it. Fire up the cameras.’

“I think it’s not only going to appeal to kids, but also to people who love Deadpool,” Wernick said. “I think it’s subversive enough and fun and creative and something that only Deadpool could do. So I think it’s going to be a real joy for not only a whole new audience, but also an audience that has seen and loved the Deadpool movies.”

They promise the film’s basic plot remains unchanged, possibly adding a Princess Bride type of storytelling bookend, if this Tweet can be believed:

Seeing an adult Fred Savage called back in a detailed recreation of his old bedroom from The Princess Bride has fans salivating for more. What could be better than the Man in Black crosspollinating with the Man in Red?

This might be seen as a way to make nice with Disney, who recently acquired Marvel Studios, which in turn owns Deadpool. In no universe could we say that Deadpool, with his snarky potty-mouth and sexual…proclivities…would nest easily in the Disney brand. But since Disney isn’t stupid (James Gunn’s Guardians of the Galaxy knee-jerk firing aside), they can’t possibly be thinking of sanitizing the future of their money-making R-rated blockbuster property. However, adding a “clean” and fun sideline of the Merc with the Mouth sounds like a true Christmas treat.

I, for one, will be there with (jingle) bells on, getting brand-new Peetimes for all the good boys and girls of the world. Remember kids, Santa Wade is always watching, and he likes it when you’re naughty.  🙂

Movie Review – Deadpool 2

Deadpool 2 Outtakes, Bloopers, and Banned Jokes

Every Hilarious Deadpool 2 Trailer

Guardians of the Galaxy Ex-Director James Gunn to Direct Suicide Squad 2

Jill Florio

Co-Creator of RunPee, Chief of Operations, Content Director, and Managing Editor. RunPee Jilly likes galaxy-spanning sci fi, superhero sagas, fantasy films, YA dystopians, action thrillers, chick flicks, and zany comedies, in that order…and possesses an inspiringly small bladder. In fact, that little bladder sparked the creation of RunPee. (Good thing she’s learned to hold it.)

Movie Review – Bohemian Rhapsody

Movie Review - Bohemian RhapsodyTears — check

Racing heart — check

Goose pimples — check

Foot stomping good fun — check

A deeper appreciation for a beloved musician and band — double check.

I love Queen’s music; always have, but I’ll be honest: I knew nothing about the band members and their story, and I’m glad I didn’t, because it made this movie so much more enjoyable not knowing. (And I won’t ruin that for you in this review.)

Any discussion of this film must begin with Rami Malek’s outstanding performance as Freddie Mercury. For a role that relied so deeply on voice, it was his expressions — especially his eyes — that told the story. I could go on with platitudes and adjectives, but let’s just say, “He rocked it,” and move on.

The pacing was spot on. There was just enough of each dramatic scene to get the impact without dragging.

The director Bryan Singer (the guy who did the good X-Men movies) showed he can direct a movie to an emotional crescendo just as well — perhaps even better — than he can end with climatic action.

This is a movie with no room for improvement. I see a lot of movies and that’s not something I can often say.

Grade: A+

About The Peetimes: RunPee Vera and I worked together on these Peetimes. I think we came up with four good options, nicely spaced out in the movie. And we worked extra hard to avoid the music montage scenes.

There are extra scenes during, or after, the end credits of Bohemian Rhapsody. (What we mean by Anything Extra.)

Creator of RunPee. Aspiring author.

Did Rami Malek sing in Bohemian Rhapsody?

Rami Malek as Freddie Mercury
Rami Malek as Freddie Mercury

If you’ve seen Bohemian Rhapsody, you may be wondering if you’re hearing Rami Malek’s voice during the musical numbers. The answer is a little bit “yes” and a little bit “no.” As amazing as Malek’s voice is, we’re talking about duplicating Freddie Mercury here. No small feat. There’s no shame in being one of a chorus of voices needed to recreate the masterful range of Mercury.

In an interview with Metro USA, Malek confirmed he did sing some of the songs. Malek said, “It is an amalgamation of a few voices. But predominantly, it is my hope and the hope of everyone that we will hear as much Freddie as possible.”

The mixed vocal doesn’t feature on the film’s soundtrack, which is solely of original Queen recordings.

Movie Review – Bohemian Rhapsody

Creator of RunPee. Aspiring author.

Lyrics to Bohemian Rhapsody

Before you go see Bohemian Rhapsody, you might want to brush up on the lyrics to their most iconic song.

Is this the real life?
Is this just fantasy?
Caught in a landslide
No escape from reality
Open your eyes
Look up to the skies and see
I’m just a poor boy, I need no sympathy
Because I’m easy come, easy go
A little high, little low
Anyway the wind blows, doesn’t really matter to me, to me
Mama, just killed a man
Put a gun against his head
Pulled my trigger, now he’s dead
Mama, life had just begun
But now I’ve gone and thrown it all away
Mama, ooo
Didn’t mean to make you cry
If I’m not back again this time tomorrow
Carry on, carry on, as if nothing really matters
Too late, my time has come
Sends shivers down my spine
Body’s aching all the time
Goodbye everybody, I’ve got to go
Gotta leave you all behind and face the truth
Mama, ooo (anyway the wind blows)
I don’t want to die
I sometimes wish I’d never been born at all
I see a little silhouetto of a man
Scaramouch, scaramouch, will you do the fandango
Thunderbolt and lightning, very very frightening me
Galileo, Galileo,
Galileo, Galileo,
Galileo Figaro – magnifico
But I’m just a poor boy and nobody loves me
He’s just a poor boy from a poor family
Spare him his life from this monstrosity
Easy come easy go, will you let me go
Bismillah! No, we will not let you go – let him go
Bismillah! We will not let you go – let him go
Bismillah! We will not let you go – let me go
Will not let you go – let me go (never)
Never let you go – let me go
Never let me go ooo
No, no, no, no, no, no, no
Oh mama mia, mama mia, mama mia, let me go
Beelzebub has a devil put aside for me
For me
For me
So you think you can stone me and spit in my eye
So you think you can love me and leave me to die
Oh baby, can’t do this to me baby
Just gotta get out, just gotta get right outta here
Ooh yeah, ooh yeah
Nothing really matters
Anyone can see
Nothing really matters, nothing really matters to me
Anyway the wind blows…

Songwriters: Freddie Mercury
Bohemian Rhapsody lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

Movie Review – Bohemian Rhapsody

Creator of RunPee. Aspiring author.

One Hard Quiz – Queen’s Music: Can you match the lyrics with the song?

In this quiz I’ll give you a lyric from some of Queen’s most popular songs. If you’re a die-hard fan, most of these won’t stump you, but there may be a few that’ll make you scratch your head. Good Luck!

Queen Quiz – match the lyrics with the song

I’ll admit that, without my research, I wouldn’t have gotten any questions correct — so be proud of any right answer.

RunPee Mom is our emotional bedrock. Without her, RunPee never would have lasted a decade as an app (which is since the dawn of time in internet years). She’s our biggest cheerleader and an unending source of unconditional love. She works cheerfully and tirelessly, seeing any movie we ask of her, writing interesting reviews, and being our…well…MOM. Her genres of choice: kiddie flicks, animated movies, emotional dramas, historical features, war films, diverse biographies, and even dense, diabolically plotted thrillers. She knows more about famous and infamous figures in history than said figures probably knew about themselves. She’s the Quiz Manager for the RunPee.com blog, and Assistant Facebook Manager for our social media efforts. If you’ve interacted with someone on our Facebook page, you’ve most likely been given a virtual hug by RunPee Mom.