Because Warner Brothers can’t let their cash cow die a honorable death, Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them kicks off the first of FIVE planned additions to the Harry Potter cinematic universe, and it looks like they’ll have a lot to work with and plenty of growing to do. While it looks and sounds like Harry Potter, the new film is both refreshingly and frustratingly different: it’s a little more adult, it’s titular beasts provide the required wonderment, but the plot and characters are simultaneously underdeveloped and overwritten. The storyline bounces between worthwhile plot points and useless diversions, all the while anchored by two paint-by-numbers performances by Eddie Redmayne and Katherine Waterston (the best in show here are easily Dan Fogler as Kowalski and Alison Sudol as Queenie). This is the first screenplay written by author J.K. Rowling and you can tell – there are avenues explored that have little to no impact on the plot, and every character, no matter how shallowly drawn, is given ample screen time despite their uselessness (I’m looking at Samantha Morton’s evil mother as a chief offender). Perhaps with a little editing (or another writer) and a couple of coherent plots, the Fantastic Beasts series could grow into a worthy rival of the much-heralded Harry Potter films…but I’m not holding my breath.