The Harry Potter franchise was (and of course still is) a very successful range of books and movies. I once started watching the films, but I’ll have to admit that I eventually stopped watching. After a couple of them I simply lost interest and I never returned. I didn’t know J.K. Rowling kept writing books and was involved in expanding the universe which in the end has resulted in this film, the start of a new franchise. It wasn’t a movie I had any feelings about, but which I decided to give a chance.
The story is about Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne), a writer travelling to America with his briefcase filled with strange animals. He writes a book about them which, decades later, will be read by Harry Potter (something which I didn’t know from the movies, but read on IMDb). In New York he ends up in the magical community and gets into trouble because he doesn’t abide by the local rules. The stern Graves (Colin Farrell) doesn’t allow it and takes harsh measures. Strange beasts are causing trouble though and Newt is an expert in knowing how to handle them. He manages to convince a woman from the “magic police” to help him.
Although there are some references to the Harry Potter movies this movie is something separate. It tries to show the magical world which exists in America and partly succeeds. The problem is that the story this movie tells mostly feels unimportant. The main character is a stranger version of Hugh Grant who constantly seems to feel uncomfortable and acts strangely. As a viewer you don’t really get to know much about him, except that he catches strange animals and wants to protect them. Not a character you’ll want to care about and the same is true for the events the characters go through. There are a couple funny and spectacular moments, but Fantastic Beasts feels like something which hasn’t been fully realised. It might give Potter fans what they want, but won’t convince others.