Let me get the obvious, punny appraisal out of the way first. "Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them" is a fantastic film. Viewers who had their nose glued to the Harry Potter books to series newcomers can both enjoy this movie. I'm in the latter group so I can testify that this movie is still great without much prior knowledge.
First of all, the film looks gorgeous. All of the titular beasts, magic, and setting look akin to a kinetic art masterpiece. It's enough to make you gush out all your excitement in a burst of, "That's so cool!" I can watch this movie completely on mute and still have the same amount of enjoyment watching it.
The characters in the film all felt real and relatable. The main cast all had a fault that I felt I could attach myself to. The main character, Mr. Scamander, had this awkward charm in the way he talked to people and carried himself. He didn't look most people in the eye when he talked to them and his actions and body language told a side that was never explicitly stated. The actor, Eddie Redmayne, showed how comfortable Mr. Scamander is around humans compared to magical beasts. Which is a night and day difference. Jacob Kowalski was my second favorite in the film. His character was clumsy and a fish out of water. Seeing him being brought into this wizardly world helped me relate to him in just how crazy it is. The villain, or villains depending on how you look at it, had a real creep factor to them and the main bad guy made me hate him in only one line. All the actors played their character to a T and I applaud them for it.
The story of the film had some lightheartedness in the beginning that made me smile. Not only was that effect brought on by the characters and the scenes but the music helped convey those emotions very well. There wasn't much tension until an hour into it. Most of it was underlining and still building up. Once it all pays out, the movie suddenly had a more sinister tone to it. I almost forgot I was watching a Disney movie. I love that both parts of the movie balance so well between the fun and the sinister. It helps you smile through the darker parts and keeps you intrigued while you're in it.
This movie gets a definite recommendation from me to go see it. I would go out to see it again, it's that good. I believe this film can bring some new fans to the harry potter series with its cool magic and intriguing beasts. Heck, I'm already interested in reading more now.