Despite some amazing creative endeavours with the beasts and world building in 1926 New York, Fantastic Beasts never quite hits the high standards the Harry Potter universe set. The characters are never as endearing as Potter and co. and despite some really good action scenes and a plethora of beasts on show, it just never hits the same magic that Harry Potter spurned in children and adults alike.
After completing a global excursion of discovering and collecting an array of magical beasts, Newt Salamander (Eddie Redmayne) arrives in New York and crosses paths with no-maj (American for muggle) Jacob who inadvertently lets loose the magical beasts who cause havoc around New York. Gaining the knowledge of this, Newt sets out with Jacob and a band of American wizards to track down and recapture the beasts before they destroy New York.
The story is good and zips along at a reasonable pace although the middle section does feel like it drags a bit in this 2 hour+ film. Whilst the story is serviceable and the creative design of the beasts stand out, its the characters that inhabit the world that are less endearing. Forgettable is the best word I can think of to describe them and even Newt himself, whilst charismatic and quietly charming, never quite commands the role. Jacob Kowalski (Dan Fogler), however, absolutely steals the show. This loveable, bumbling human stares in awe at every creature, has some genuinely funny scenes and to be honest, is the one person most can empathise with after being thrust into this world.
Whilst Fantastic Beasts does enough to tick the box to just about warrant another instalment, its not quite to the same level as Harry Potter. Although this would have been a difficult task to achieve, I can’t help but feel unless the cast is more fleshed out next time around, they may not get to the inevitable third film that Warner Bros are planning for this new series of Potterverse films.
There’s a lot to like here though, the art design, creative design of the beasts and 1926 New York are all fantastic and hats off to Rowling and Co., their worldbuilding is second to none. Its just a shame then, that the characters that inhabit this world are nowhere near as appealing
Verdict - 7/10