* * * B
I was really hoping this new entry in the Harry Potter universe would be good, and I wasn’t disappointed. The film is set in 1920’s New York. The protagonist, Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne), is a British wizard who comes to America, bringing fantastic beasts with him. He gets mixed up with a muggle, Jacob Kowalski (Dan Fogler), a disgraced Auror, Tina (Katherine Waterston), and her sister Queenie Goldstein (Alison Sudol). They get in the way of ruthless Auror Percival Graves (Colin Farrel).
Scamander is an interesting character. On the surface, he appears weak, but his love of magical creatures gives him depths. Kowalski is a great everyman. Tina lets her bleeding heart get her into trouble. Queenie is also well realized. Farrel pulls off a great villain. I won’t spoil the plot, but it was good. My one criticism: casting a black woman as the president of the US wizarding community is fine, but the virtue signaling was a little heavy handed, and (at least in this film) her character wasn’t interesting.