Once in a while a fantasy movie comes around that’s really extraordinary, a fantasy movie that transcends the genre and captivates kids and adults alike. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is not that movie. It’s a middle-of-the-road franchise film that benefits from the built-in warm atmosphere of J.K. Rowling’s wizarding world, but fails to transcend superhero movie conventions; in other words, it has no stakes—we know everything will be resolved so that the next four movies can come out. Add that Eddie Redmayne is intolerable with his can’t-look-you-in-the-eyes manner; in fact, he has so little chemistry with his love interest (Katherine “what am I doing in this movie” Waterston), that it’s like they’re looking past each other, at something CG, rather than at each other. Colin Farrell and Samantha Morton are passable, but have one-dimensional roles, as does Ezra Miller, who is typecast to make Rowling’s thinly veiled metaphor about bullying work. There’s also a metaphor about environmentalism. Gah. Thankfully, there are bright spots. Namely, Dan Fogler and Alison Sudol, who play a muggle and witch who fall in love. Their chemistry is magic.
By Alec Julian & Carrie White