Parents need to know that "Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them" is a prequel to the Harry Potter movies. Based on J.K. Rowling's original story, it takes place in 1920s New York City and follows Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne), a magizoologist and author of a Hogwarts textbook that catalogs magical creatures. As per usual in the Potter saga, you can expect plenty of fantasy violence, some of which ends in deaths (a couple are pretty gruesome). There's also mass destruction, although the property destroyed is magically fixed, and the minds of the No-Maj ("no magic") folks are always erased. Wizards engage in wand battles, two wizards are sentenced to death and nearly killed, and an out-of-control form of magic nearly destroys whole swaths of Manhattan. A character's mother beats him with a belt (welts, cuts are shown on his hands). One scene takes place in a speakeasy, where adult characters order drinks, and there's a bit of light romance between couples that ends in goodbye kisses, longing looks, and brief caresses. Unlike the original "Harry Potter" movies, the main characters here are all adults, and the story is much more of a grown-up suspense/thriller than a kid-centric adventure. But themes and messages include curiosity, compassion and courage, and the main characters are all strong role models.
Running Time: 133 minutes
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