Rogue One and Fantastic Beasts - nostalgia isn't always a good thing
Nostalgia can be a tricky thing. I'm usually a pretty sentimental guy and any whiff of nostalgia can hit me pretty hard; so with the release of spinoffs for two of my all time favourite franchises (Star Wars and Harry Potter), you would think that I'd be pretty stoked. That's what I thought too, but my response to Rogue One and Fantastic Beasts was surprisingly muted by this sense of impending nostalgia. With Fantastic Beasts, the initial foray back into the wizarding world was exciting, until it simply wasn't. At every reference of Hogwarts or the original saga, things felt increasingly distracting, rather than nostalgic. It's almost as if each reference was just a reminder of what I've been missing the whole time, but not nearly potent enough to actually fill that gap. And as a result, it only made me yearn for the original content more.
With Rogue One, you have a much more direct channeling of the original Star Wars content, but it just wasn't the same either. It was absolute bonkers seeing Darth Vader unleash his wrath in full form, but this was obviously an end piece to something else. And that something is unfortunately not the Jedi-centred story we've all grown to love. Again, it's a reminder of that, but far from being one and the same. My thoughts about Episode VII are a bit different, however, and I'll reserve that for a separate post.
I'm also not blind to the fact that spinoffs are by no means novel. They're a staple of the television industry and not completely foreign in films either. But never has there been a movie spin-off for something as beloved or culturally significant as the Star Wars and Harry Potter franchises. These are essentially two of the most profitable franchises in the history of the medium, and more importantly, they're franchises that people care very deeply about. For me, that transcends any conventional thinking surrounding the use of nostalgia and how audiences might react to it. Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed watching both Rogue One and Fantastic Beasts, I just feel like the nostalgia effect in some ways detracted from my overall experience of the films. From a marketing and numbers standpoint, it's no mystery why spinoffs might be preferable to original content. But how cool would it have been if Disney or Warner Brothers used that kind of budget on something completely brand new? That's a whole different topic, but just some food for thought.
I know I'm being a bit rigid here, and totally understand how most people would embrace this extension of what they hold so dearly to their hearts. You get even more Star Wars and Harry Potter, what's wrong with that, right? And the thing is, I don't think there's anything wrong with introducing these spinoffs, I just question the necessity of their existence from the perspective of a fan. Sometimes, less is more. And as much as I yearn for more Star Wars and Harry Potter, we've got more than enough marathon-worthy content to fan that fire.