Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (2016)

Newt Scamander, British wizard zoologist and a fish out of water in backwards America, is an awkward person’s awkward person, and charming in spite of himself.

The CGI beasts, however, are the real stars; the movie’s purpose, though it also deals with the consequences of abuse and repression, seems to be to drum up support for the environmentalist idea that we should learn more about animals, respect them, and protect them at all costs.

Okay, I guess… I mean, give me a four-winged gryphon—better yet, an iridescent blue snake with wings—and I will protect the heck out of it, for sure. If I’m honest, the pyrogenic rhino, the kleptomaniac platypus, and even the friendly twig, are way less appealing. There’s a reason the WWF logo is a panda and not the Pacific lamprey: the latter looks like a mini version of a sandworm from Dune. In other words, not all endangered animals are cute.

Some of the plot points seemed weak, but overall I enjoyed the movie more than I expected to. Future films are planned; now that the world-building has been done, I hope and expect there will be better plot and less eye-candy.