Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

The beasts are present and accounted for, but the magic got derailed over on the set of Doctor Strange. Another of the kebob-robbed J.K. Rowling (who did the screenplay) efforts to keep the Potter franchise afloat, this time set in 1936, 70 years before Harry & company enter Hogwarts. Newt Scamander, an animal rights activist in 1926 (!), called a “magi-zoologist” here, is arrested by The Ministry of Magic in NYC after inadvertently switching suitcases with Jacob Kowalski (Dan Fogler), a pastry chef who learns of the existence of magic but has not been obliviated, the word for wiping one’s memory to secure anonymity. As Newt, Eddie Redmayne is his usual unconvincing self, introverted and a hybrid of Doctor Who and Doctor Doolittle rolled into one who shakes a wooden stick and calls himself a magician! In fact there is no magic whatsoever, just mind-reading and stick waving and a ragged bunch of creatures who eat other creatures and chase men through Manhattan hoping to mate with them, along with the occasional biting, blasting and bruising of “no-mags” (the American slang for “muggles”). And the creatures look like escapees from the Jim Henson Workshop’s gloomier corners, puckered up and spiny, or else there’s a conniving platypus jewel thief! The rest of the characters are Tina Goldstein (Katherine Waterston from Inherent Vice) and her tartish sister, Queenie. Colin Farrell has the difficult role of playing the good-bad wizard that is Slytherin House all the way! But, the most intriguing role is Ezra Miller as Credence, a kind of precursor to the “rebel without a cause” routine who hides a “dark” secret! It’s just more of J.K. Rowling’s usual emphasis on empathetic pandering where witches and wizards are misunderstood while humans are brutish, intolerant and destructive! Hated every bloody minute!