This review contains SPOILERS and lots of them. Don’t continue reading if you don’t want to know. Really. Stop right here!
Probably by now all the diehard Harry Potter fans have made their way to the theater to see the latest installment – Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. The film, written this time, directly by J.K. Rowling herself is a visual delight, although, it does lack in the story department.
Newt Scamander (adequately played by Eddie Redmayne) comes to New York City, fresh off the boat from the U.K., which formulates the first question – Why did he have to come by boat? Can’t he just apparate? I mean, what’s the point of being a wizard if you can’t easily get to point A to point B? Also, he claims he’s come to America to release one of his creatures back into the wild of a magical place known as…Arizona. Couldn’t he just go straight there and bypass NYC all together? It’s a confusing way to start.
There also seems to be every opportunity imaginable to preach the ever popular Potterverse of tolerance. Don’t get me wrong, I like the message of everyone should get along, but the character of Mary Lou, (played by Samantha Morton) a regular ‘ol human who believes there are witches among us, but turns out to be quite a witchy person herself, seems oddly conceived and oddly used. Honestly, there are too many characters in this film and a lot of new Potterverse world building stuff is introduced to propel the plot forward. It would have made it stronger to stick with Newt and what drives him to do what he does, rather than introduce so many new people and the war In America with keeping magic secret, as well as the ever growing powers and threat of the dark wizard Grindewald. Too much. Too much happening!
The film is visually stunning. The beasts are real and beautiful and the wonderment of the wizarding world is experienced by the Muggle, or to use the U.S. lingo, No-Mag, Jacob Kowalski (notice the initials here?), which is delightful. The experience is reminiscent of the magic at the first viewing of the very first Harry Potter film. And who doesn’t want to relive that moment?