I never read the “Harry Potter” books, but I was a big fan of the movie franchise. My close friend Arnie really liked this movie and thought it was as good as the Potter movies, so I saw it on New Year’s Day. Unfortunately, I didn’t like this film nearly as much as he did. The movie has good special effects, but it was way too long and had too many plot lines. Also, I didn’t get emotionally involved with the main characters, so I didn’t care much about what happened to them. In short, the magic was missing!
Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne) arrives in NYC in the roaring 20’s. In his suitcase, he is carrying a bunch of “fantastic beasts” which he has discovered and studied in various parts of the globe. Jacob Kowalski (Dan Fogler) a “no-maj” (a.k.a. “muggle” a.k.a. normal person) and Newt accidentally get their suitcases mixed up and one of the beasts escapes in NYC, wreaking havoc. It is essential that the “no-majs” be completely unaware of the wizards and witches living among them and the escape of the beast put this “prime directive” at risk. Newt then gets in trouble with MACUSA (Magical Congress of the USA) and is brought in for questioning by one of their agents, Tina Goldstein (Katherine Waterston). Jacob still remains with Newt, and they eventually meet up with Tina’s mind-reading sister-witch, Queenie (Alison Sudol), who “takes a shine” to Jacob, who is similarly enthralled with Queenie. There is also some subtle romantic tension between Newt and Tina. If all this isn’t enough there is a dark magical force bringing destruction to NYC, called an “Obscurus,” which must be stopped!
The various CGI-created beasts each have their “5 minutes of fame,” but, although some were cute, they didn’t do much for me. As far as I was concerned, they could have all stayed in the suitcase! This is apparently the first of a five-film series, and perhaps I’ll like the next one better, but this film tried to cover too much ground and the magic “disappeared” in the process. However, for those of you who see metaphoric depth in J. K. Rowling work, you might enjoy this film much more than I did. If you decide to see it, it needs to be seen on the BS to get the most out of the CGI special effects.