Jean-Paul’s Rating: 2/5 stars
Bottom Line: Lots of style. Lacking in substance. Filled with interesting characters with nothing interesting to do.
The wizarding world of Harry Potter skips almost a century into the past and across the pond to the good old United States. It’s a completely different world over here as evidenced by the muggles being called no-majs and the constant massive damage to no-maj buildings and streets without the consummate massive loss of lives. Yeah, this story is kind of lazy.
Eddie Redmayne plays Newt Scamander, an Aspergers spectrum type wizard with little regard for how his actions affect muggles (I refuse to call them no-maj because it sounds stupid) unless it’s necessary for the plot. He’s a Brit traveling to the U.S. to release a Fantastic Beast back into its natural habitat of Arizona even though U.S. law strictly forbids such actions. Since this movie is Fantastic Beasts, not Fantastic Beast, there are all sorts of beasts that he brings with in his Suitcase of Holding. And since we need a story, some of them escape when he gets his suitcase mixed up with a wannabe baker named Mr. Kowalski (Dan Folger). Oh, Newt, what tomfoolery will your indiscriminate use of magic and your criminal disregard for the animals under your protection get you into this time? Enter Porpentina Goldstein (Katherine Waterston), an agent of whatever the U.S. version of the Ministry of Magic is. The name escapes me, but it is just a lame as no-maj. She takes the bumbling Newt in for illegal use of magic and creature even though it’s no longer her job because she screwed something up in the not too distant past and boy would that have probably made a better story than this. Meanwhile, Graves (Colin Farrell) (hint: bad guy, if the name is not a giveaway) thinks Newt might be responsible for the creature causing destruction around New York (hint: it’s not him). The rest of the movie is Newt trying to get his creatures back that Kowalski accidentally releases and a quick wrapping up of the thin plot that ends with Johnny Depp for no reason at all except I assume Colin Ferrell decided pretty quickly he didn’t want to be involved in any sequel.
The good news is that, despite the plot, the characters are very likable. Mr. Kowalski especially. And they’re likable because they’re kid-like. The problem is they’re adults acting like kids acting like adults. It works, but mostly just for kids. I didn’t not like this movie, but nor did I like it. I give it a Deathly Hallows Part 2.