Warner Bros. launches a second Harry Potter franchise, scripted by J.K. Rowling and based on the fanciful, fake textbook she published in 2001. That book's fictional author, wizard Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne), arrives in New York City in the 1920s looking for magical beasts in the American southwest; helping him are two witch sisters (Katherine Waterston and Alison Sudol), and hot on his trail is a wizard cop (Colin Farrell, grave and colorless) from the Magical Congress of the USA. This is indistinguishable from the Potter movies, though as first in the new series, it has considerably less backstory to lug around. Dan Fogler, who's spent years knocking around in bad comedies, walks away with the movie as a frumpy baker who gets pulled into the supernatural hubbub; the dull special-effects gloss of a fantasy blockbuster only throws his charming performance into greater relief. David Yates directed; with Ezra Miller, Samantha Morton, and Jon Voight.
By J.R. Jones