Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them

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J.K. Rowling’s became a billionaire from the Harry Potter series, but she’s lost all the magic in this. Sure, it’ll make $100 million at the box office, but I wish she would’ve changed that magic wand into a pen that could write a better screenplay. Just having a few Harry Potter things, with an entirely different cast, is enough to make everyone go gaga I suppose. But as Toronto critic Norman Wilner said, “Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them is to the Harry Potter franchise, what The Phantom Menace was to Star Wars.”

I couldn’t have said it better.

The movie is so jam packed with stuff, I lost interest right away. We get all the rules on the beasts, we are introduced to new characters, and we get the new mythology that will only interest those that love Dungeons & Dragons and that middle Earth type of thing. There are very few interesting moments there.

The protagonist is Newt Scamander, who I thought was recently named to Trump’s cabinet, but I could be mistaken. He’s played by the talented and Oscar winning Eddie Redmayne, who is rather annoying in this role. He’s doing this bashful, not looking you in the eyes bit. It’s as if he’s saying — Look, I’m acting. I’ve done the transgender character, I’ve done a disabled character. Now I’m doing the introverted wizard. Aren’t I talented?

It gets old quick.

Scamander is a Ministry of Magic employee who arrives in New York City in the mid-20s. He’s got a suitcase filled with magical creatures. One of them gets loose at the bank, because it can’t resist stealing money and jewelry (as cute as some may find that platypus creature, wouldn’t a racoon have looked a lot more interesting as a thief?).

One of the pleasant surprises is a working class guy at the bank with a similar looking suitcase. He’s played by Dan Fogler, who I always thought was hysterical in those teen/stoner comedies he was doing for awhile (Balls of Fury, Take Me Home Tonight).

A woman (Katherine Waterston) from the Magical Congress of the United States of America is trying to catch Scamander.

There’s a rogue wizard named Grindelwald that’s up to no good.

There’s more fun looking at a Prohibition-era New York than the creatures, which everyone will praise. Yet as interesting as a lot of them look, we’ve been dazzled by CGI before. And one of the twig bug creatures that’s an expert lock picker, wasn’t as cute or funny as Groot was in Guardians of the Galaxy.

The middle section of this movie, where we watch a few characters trying to catch these creatures, will surely bring laughs and excitement to young teens. Yet even that was done better in Goosebumps.

Colin Ferrell does a decent job with his understated turn as the Director of Magical Security. Ezra Miller, who was so great in City Island and The Perks of Being a Wallflower, is okay as a tormented and abused stepson to Mary Lou Barebone (Samantha Morton).

Jon Voight is wasted, as a newspaper tycoon who has a son running for office.

There’s a speakeasy scene that’s a bit of fun, and reminiscent of the classic bar scene in Star Wars.

There’s interesting production design throughout, but it’s such a weak narrative in a story that lacks heart. It’s just overstuffed with things, all in preparation for the franchise they’re prepared to make millions off of.

Worst of all, it’s a bit too scary for younger kids, and the overall picture lacks substance and heart.

For an adult, it was a slog to sit through, at over two hours.

Board was bored.

This gets 1 ½ stars out of 5.