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Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them: Rowling's story is a beauty

By Damon Smith

Zealots called the Second Salemers, led by Mary Lou Barebone (Samantha Morton) and her adopted son Credence (Ezra Miller), preach hell and damnation in 1926 New York, following a reign of terror perpetrated by dark wizard Gellert Grindelwald (Johnny Depp).

Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne) arrives in the Big Apple at the height of this paranoia, carrying an enchanted suitcase with hidden pocket-dimensions full of endangered critters.

A No-Maj called Jacob Kowalski (Dan Fogler) accidentally picks up Newt's luggage and releases otherworldly species in breach of the Statute of Secrecy.

Beasties go on the rampage and Newt attempts to recapture them, aided by Jacob, a former Auror called Porpentina Goldstein (Katherine Waterston) and her mind-reading sister, Queenie (Alison Sudol).

Percival Graves (Colin Farrell), Director of Magical Security, is convinced that Newt's creatures are responsible for a brutal attack. He declares war on the fugitives in a city where dark forces are gathering. As origin stories go, Fantastic Beasts... is a crowd-pleasing doozy.

Four stars

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