“Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” is loaded with action, fantastic creatures, new and interesting characters created by J.K. Rowling, and a happy ending to boot. It features the talents of Eddie Redmayne, Colin Farrell, the voice of Ron Perlman, and—in a cameo—the one and only Johnny Depp. This movie is a prequel to the Harry Potter films and centers on the character of Newt Scamander (Redmayne) who comes to New York from England for a specific purpose. While in the states, he becomes friends with a woman named Tina Goldstein (Katherine Waterston), though their relationship starts off a bit rocky. He also meets a factory worker named Jacob Kowalski (Dan Fogler), who not only becomes a good friend but finds a possible romance in the person of Mary Lou (Samantha Morton), Tina’s friend. Jacob has a dream to open a bakery because “pastries make people happy.” In a funny scene when Jacob sees several creatures never before seen on Earth, he comments, “I ain’t got the brains to make this up!”
One of the nice parts of the movie is the fact that, despite the numerous odd-looking and fierce creatures that are shown, and the wizardry—along with a lot of zaps from wands, the human touch is preserved. For instance, for his efforts in assisting him, Newt helps a dream of Jacob’s come true. However, a villain named Graves (Farrell) proves to be a problem and could be Newt’s worst enemy. He is after a creature called an Obscuria, and Newt and Graves want to find the creature for two very different reasons.
The film’s story is original, based on Rowling’s novel. There are a lot of zaps from wands, several sequences of pursuit of the main characters, and the nice human moments already mentioned. And in a very funny scene, Newt places a certain scent on himself and Jacob to draw an extremely large creature that wants to mate. Newt hopes to capture the creature but its pursuit of him and Jacob, for mating purposes, is quite funny.
Unfortunately, witchcraft is used frequently. So, like its predecessors, the Harry Potter films, we are unable to award this prequel our Dove Family-Approved Seal.