“Harry Potter” fans, rejoice — the wizarding world is back and it’s “a truly magical experience in every sense of the word,” according to critics.
With an 80 percent score on Rotten Tomatoes, critics are praising actors Eddie Redmayne and Katherine Waterston, and the story that takes place years before Harry Potter picks ups his first textbook at Hogwarts.
“The result is an effective if not everlasting magical spell,” writes Chicago Sun Times’ Richard Roeper.
“‘Fantastic Beasts’ is certainly a J.K. Rowling vision, instantly recognizable as part of what they officially call her ‘wizarding world,'” writes TheWrap’s film critic, Alonso Duralde. “The film’s feel owes just as much to the re-assembled production team behind the ‘Harry Potter’ franchise, including producer David Heyman, director David Yates and the outstanding production designer Stuart Craig. Therein lies both the enterprise’s triumph and its pitfalls. It looks like a billion dollars, most of which it will surely bring in over the promised run of four more Scamander films.”
See nine of the best reviews below.
Colin Covert, Minneapolis Star Tribune:
“This is a truly magical experience in every sense of the word. This is not only a good film — quite possibly the best chapter of its series since 2004’s ‘Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban’ — but in a strange way, it is an important one. It shows how pluck and perseverance and goodwill — and, frankly, a magic wand — can stand up to unsettling challenges. One hundred percent recommended. Multiple viewings advised.”
Chris Bumbray, JoBlo:
“Shorter than other Potter films at only 130 minutes, ‘Fantastic Beasts’ serves as a fun-filled introduction to a new batch of wizards, with Eddie Redmayne ideally cast as our hero, Newt. With James Newton Howard contributing a score that peppers in John Williams’s themes but adds some of his own, and an intriguing mythology (including a big name cameo as the new big-bad Gellert Grindelwald), this is franchise film-making done right. It’s thoroughly enjoyable and a guaranteed crowd-pleaser.”
Bruce Kirkland, Toronto Sun:
“The great news is that this film — the first of five planned for the ‘Fantastic Beasts’ franchise — begins at a higher level than the first of the eight Harry Potter movies did. While it falters and even bogs down at moments in the storytelling, ‘Beasts’ is a dazzling spectacle overall and more often spellbinding than not.”
Richard Roeper, Chicago Sun Times:
“‘Fantastic Beasts’ is directed by the stellar veteran David Yates, who helmed the last four ‘Potter’ films and is clearly at home in this expanded universe. The special effects are of course top level (though again, I wouldn’t say they’re breathtakingly special); the sets are amazingly rich in detail; the cinematography is fluid and vibrant. The result is an effective if not everlasting magical spell.”
Jocelyn Noveck, Associated Press:
“There’s also a refreshingly light tone competing with the sinister themes, thanks especially to two exceedingly appealing supporting characters headed for a sweet confection of a romance.”
Julian Roman, MovieWeb:
“As a devout Potter fan, ‘Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them’ was enjoyable. It’s not a great film, but delivers the goods that I expected. My primary issue is that Scamander always has the perfect animal to get him out of a fix. It’s entirely contrived, but thankfully not a deal breaker. [Dan] Fogler, Collin Farrell as Percival Graves, and Alison Sudol as Queenie Goldstein are the outstanding players. I sincerely hope that Newt Scamander becomes more developed in the sequel. He does not have the charm or gravitas of Harry Potter, but Warner Bros. does have a worthy new franchise on their hands.”
Bill Goodykoontz, Arizona Republic:
“‘Fantastic Beasts’ feels very much like its own thing, worthy of its own attention and box-office. It’s an entertaining, visually stunning film that doesn’t require Potter knowledge to enjoy (though it would probably help).”
Brian Truitt, USA Today:
“Director David Yates’ entertaining introduction of awkward hero and magizoologist Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne) is a confident and surprisingly funny adventure that’s more charming than most of the eight ‘Harry Potter’ films. Rowling’s fans have much to love in terms of Easter eggs, familiar names being mentioned in conversation, and enough seeding of material to leave them salivating for a sequel. But whether you’re a Potterhead or not, ‘Beasts’ creates a story that’s both original and enchanting.”
Rafer Guzman, Newsday:
“J.K. Rowling’s ‘Harry Potter’ spinoff is sheer magic, a grand fantasy-adventure that already feels like an old family favorite.”