Absolutely loved the film. I was apprehensive going in, as I was worried it would be some tack-on whimsical story about some fun creatures. Kids stuff.
Boy, was I wrong. The movie is very much starring adult characters, and about adult things. There were a few tropes I disliked, but for the most part it was surprisingly sweet and earnest. Glad that the ending wrapped up the way it did as well.
I was thinking about taking a boat to the U.S., and I think that most people would say that the further the apparition, the more difficult, especially to a place you have never visited before. I will bet that the wizarding world follows some sort of progression of transport similar to the regular no-maj world. Maybe the flue network isn’t going across the ocean yet? Magical flying transport unreliable.
But, the best story explanation I think you would have is that Newt Scamander was trying to be secretive about entering the U.S. as you could see the bureaucratic red tape he would have to cut through was a lot. So, that makes sense to me, that he would ride a normal transport and go through no-maj customs, rather than the wizarding customs etc.
This movie gets all sorts of dark. And, for being kids movies, the wizarding world in Harry Potter appears to be quite dark as well. The happenings at the ministry in book 5, the order of the phoenix (basically a rebel militia) and the sending of prisoners to a medieval prison with a short sham trial. The whole wizarding world is a bit backwards in a lot of ways, and I like that you see more of that in this film.
Whatever that execution device was, it was terrifying. From the attendants brainwashed style speaking tone, to the final form that we saw. Horrible! Whew.
I also appreciated how little hand-holding the movie did for an origin story. There were no large exposition scenes, just the initial trip into the case for Jacob, which was probably the most interesting way to tell the exposition to the audience and the character. J.K. Rowling truly is a master, and a fairly great screenwriter. The movie was just great, I loved it. I thought I was going to hate the whole 20’s style period nonsense, but it was ancillary and made things a bit fresher overall.
Also Dumbledore has bad taste in men.