So the story of this film is basically this wizard, Newt Scamander, is traveling through New York City to deliver a specific animal to Arizona when the several of the creatures in his suitcase menagerie get loose and he has to round them up. Add to that a side story of anti-magic sentiment in the US (probably mirroring something akin to racism that was actually happening; J.K. Rowling is losing her subtlety regarding how she conveys her themes, messages and topics. This film was rather preachy), with some sort of "creature" running around killing people and causing a wreck of the city. Voila! Eddie Redmayne as always was perfect; the man can act like no other, and he brought to life Newt Scamander in a heartwarming and charming manner, but also brought humor to the role as well. Dan Fogler as Mr. Kowalski was a muggle or "nomage" (how they describe a non-magic person in America apparently) and he was also charming and funny, but his character came off as more of a prop used by Newt and his magical associates than being able to stand on his own as a unique purposeful character. Katherine Waterston who played Tina and was the other lead to the film came off as wooden, boring, preachy, and had extraordinarily poor chemistry with Mr. Redmayne. Perhaps it was her character, perhaps it was the writing, or perhaps she just delivered a fairly bad performance; all are equally possible, and quite possibly all are probable. Alison Sudol who played her sister, Queenie, suffered from the same problem, although I'm not even certain what the point of her character was except that she romantically falls for Mr. Kowalski. Those four are the main actors on screen. Colin Farrell plays a small but significant role as Mr. Graves, who is some big shot at the local ministry of magical law enforcement and does fine, boring character but it works out in the end. Jon Voight has a small role as a media mogul and is atypical of that time period. Ron Perlman has a small role as a goblin gangster, which was odd seeing a goblin speak with a Brooklyn accent and smoking a cigar, and I'm still not certain if it worked. And then Johnny Depp had a brief appearance as Gellert Grindelwald, of which he will return in the series and I'm assuming Dumbledore will also appear at some point. What was missing from this film which was present in all of the original Harry Potter films was the stellar British acting talent, but I guess you can't have everything.
I felt the film was essentially flat; not really that good, and not really that bad. It was entertaining enough, but suffered from a slight problem of having too much going on all at once. The story should have been more focused on Newt and his newfound friends, but then the film would follow this other story line of a tortured boy and his family preaching the evils of magic. Also, unlike in Harry Potter where audiences were slowly shown how cool magic can be to being dazzled by the end of series, right off the start in this film people are bombarded by magic, so it quickly looses its "coolness" factor and becomes commonplace unfortunately. So Warner Brothers Studio threw money at David Yates and the production and they went all out and I think that is what nailed them, in my opinion. If you think back to the original Harry Potter film, it was far more simpler than this film, and I think that made it much more enjoyable. I will probably watch it again and all of the future films, and I'm sure they'll all be entertaining. I doubt however if any of them will possess that magical sparkle that fired an entire generation's imagination with the original Harry Potter franchise.
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