I’m very excited to discuss a new release for the first time, especially one that so many fans are debating whether or not to watch. Let me first say: I am an avid Harry Potter fan. The first book was released when I was six, my mother read the first three with me, and then my older sister and I would compete every summer to read the next book to completion. We were at every midnight release of the novels, and at every midnight opening of each movie. So, Harry Potter fans, I am with you.
As fair warning, I will tell you that I am not generally a fan of sequels, prequels or anything that is not pure to the original story or set. Movies like Godfather Part IV and Matrix Reloaded set my teeth on edge and in my opinion detract from the overall power of the story. I’m sure we all agree that Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, falls into the category of sequels-that-were-released-because-they-will-make-money. Period. However, with that being said, the movie was decent. There were enough ties to the original series (without overkill), and there was no question that the imagination involved falls very much in line with that of Harry Potter and mirrors our first discoveries of J.K. Rowlings wizarding-world.
In fact, I would argue that there was too much imagination and not enough plot. A great deal of new fantastical creatures and wizarding vocabulary were squeezed into the movie, which was neat. However, the film definitely lacked investment into the characters. The beauty of the Harry Potter series is that we had time to grow with and love each of the characters; even villains like the Malfoys somehow earned our greatest affection. This movie does not offer such characters, but it also does not pretend to. The acting was very good, Eddie Redmayne was fantastic as always,* and if you go into this movie as a fan of J.K. Rowlings creation of a new wizarding world (rather than as a purebred Harry Potter fan) I think you will enjoy it.
*Can we all agree that Eddie Redmayne is grossly underrated and needs to become a household name immediately?
P.S. If you are thinking of bringing your kids, I will warn you that while the movie is not quite as dark as some of the later Harry Potter releases, there are a few scenes that were pretty striking. I am not a parent, and therefore not an expert, but if your child is under twelve, I would either watch it first, or ask a parent whose parameters on movies are in line with your own.