In all, the movie is a cunning and peppy surprise, dulled only by the news that no less than four sequels await.
To its considerable credit, Fantastic Beasts is not the Potter retread it could easily-and very profitably-have been.
The film strains considerably under the weight of all its plot lines-it's never fun to be the movie with the origin story.
Rowling has a voluminous imagination and Yates keeps things humming along, although, as was also true of many Potter movies, there is often too much of a good thing.
At least the monsters, when compared with their co-stars, have some personality.
A lavish visual feast that nonetheless fails to cast any new spells over its audience.
Yates has fresh tricks up his sleeve as he preps for four more planned films. Five years after the last Potter movie, his 20-something fans can age alongside wizards and witches again. Magical.
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them turns out to be a hyperbolic name for a pretty so-so movie -- one with entertaining passages, but which mostly feels like a big-budget prequel to the better, more cohesive film that's yet to come.
Set against all the thunderous themes are the antics of a bunch of uninspired imaginary animals - sorry, fantastic beasts - and an astonishingly winning cast that very nearly atones for everything else.