You can’t go back to Hogwarts again, obviously—it ran out of books. But the newly devised American branch of the Harry Potter wizarding world is a feeble substitute. For one thing, there’s no Harry (or Hermione, or Ron)—no children at all, in fact, unless you count one little girl who’s basically a red herring. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, the opening installment of a projected five-film franchise, is a good looking movie, with lots of Dickensian grit and gleaming Art Deco interiors; and its digital effects are unusually well-integrated. But the story is thin, and its characters short on the charm that distinguished the Potter series. The Beasts pictures will probably improve as they go along, but this is a weak kickoff, writes Kurt Loder.