The animals in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them are so compelling that it’s easy to ignore the movie’s otherwise mediocre plot. That’s because the magizoologist character Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne) is a science hero who has somehow found himself in a fantasy movie. Sure, he’s a wizard who carries a massive lab around with him in a cunning suitcase that’s a lot bigger on the inside. But despite all the spell-casting, this Harry Potter prequel offers some of the most realistic representations of environmental research field work you’re likely to see in a movie this decade.
Some spoilers ahead. C’mon people, you’ve had weeks to see this movie.
Not everything about Fantastic Beasts is worthwhile, so let’s ignore the incoherent plot about temperance politics and the Magical Congress of the USA and Johnny Depp’s hair and anti-magical repression something something. None of it made any more sense than a standard episode of True Blood. Luckily, it felt like a backdrop to the real story of this film, which is about Newt coming to the United States so that he can release a giant, Cretaceous-looking magical bird back into its natural habitat.