Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

Rated 2.0

In 1926 New York, young wizard Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne) arrives with a suitcase full of the magical creatures he will later catalog in one of Harry Potter’s textbooks—but first he has to round up the ones that have escaped, creating havoc and straining relations between the wizard and nonwizard communities. J.K. Rowling, already rich beyond the dreams of avarice, tries her hand at screenwriting, but alas, she’s not very good at it: Her story is absurdly convoluted, and worse, direction is by the mediocre David Yates, who encourages his actors to mutter their lines in barely audible whispers (Redmayne is the worst offender; we don’t catch half the creature names he mumbles). This is reportedly the first of five movies. Well, Rowling’s audience is hard to alienate, but we’ll just see about that. J.L.