Picture: SUPPLIED
Picture: SUPPLIED

Because each Harry Potter novel by JK Rowling has sold more than 500,000 copies, film-makers sense a franchise.

Rowling is given credit for writing and producing Fantastic Beasts but it could well have been a few derivative concepts sketched out on an envelope — and snatched up with a further four movies in this discordant prequel to money-making vehicles on stage and screen.

Set in gang-ruled New York in 1926, it is whirling, complex entertainment. The city’s make-up is meticulous. Here — in the US anyway — magical logic is forbidden, not least by right-wing magi. There is a form of plot. Eddie Redmayne is a younger, more acute rendition of Harry P; Katherine Waterston plays a rebellious witch, a less-soggy Hermione; Dan Fogler is an aspirant baker up against a system of control; Johnny Depp (and why not?) is a precursor to Lord Voldemort. The film is as crowded with characters as it is with references to the future.

These names and events will puzzle the non-Potterati. But there are quite enough astonishing scenes — the fantastic beasts dazzle and their magic is preferable to our hollow politicians. The wands of these magicians wield real power, not contrary lies.

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