petty theft, a sort-of rhino-hippo thing whose bumpy face glows as if lit from within, an elegant green twig like being whose demeanor is shy though his actions are heroic: These are just some of the friends who take up space in Scamander’s incredible suitcase, which opens up into its own vast polychrome world of wonder.
Most affecting of all is a majestic, giant griffin with a noble brow and feathers brushed with gold. This CGI beauty is the real star of the show, though he doesn’t speak a word. His magic needs no windy explanatory exposition, which is why it’s easy to love him best.
Eddie Redmayne as Newt Scamander: An eccentric, introverted wizard, the future author of the textbook Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, and an employee at the Ministry of Magic.
Katherine Waterston as Porpentina ‘Tina’ Goldstein: A down-to- earth and grounded witch and former Auror working for the Magical Congress of the United States of America (MACUSA), who longs to fight for what’s right but is forced to work in an office well below her skill level.
Dan Fogler as Jacob Kowalski: A newly single No-Maj factory worker and aspiring baker who is exposed to the New York City magical community after he meets Newt.
Alison Sudol as Queenie Goldstein: Porpentina’s younger sister and roommate, described as a bombshell, free-spirited and big-hearted, and is accomplished in Legilimency.
Colin Farrell as Percival Graves: A high-ranking Auror and the Director of Magical Security for MACUSA, who is in charge of the protection of wizards and set with the task of tracking down Newt.
Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them, with its cracking action set pieces and commitment to dense world-building, will make for a marvelous theme park attraction someday. But as a movie, as a vessel for narrative and ideas enacted by recognizably human characters, it fails to tap into the same simple potency that the Harry Potter series wielded from book one. Director David Yates constructs a thrill ride that can stand comparison with his towering adaptations of the later novels, and yet it’s Rowling that doesn’t hold up her end of the bargain, delivering a script with the nuance and complexity of, well, a thrill ride.
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