Saturday, 17 November 2018
Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald (Movie Review)
I confess, I wasn't particularly keen on the first Fantastic Beasts movie, even though I am a Potterhead and I loved all the books and movies that preceded it. The idea of spawning an entire film series out of what was essentially a fictional textbook sounded too much like a cash grab to me. Thankfully, we had J.K. Rowling herself penning the screenplay, lending some much-needed authenticity to the project. And she returns along with veteran series director, David Yates, to give fans another glimpse into her "Wizarding World" in the second installment of what is now a 5-part series.
Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald opens with the titular dark wizard (Johnny Depp), who'd been imprisoned at the end of the previous movie, escaping captivity during a transfer to Azkaban prison. We soon learn that he is still after Credence Barebone (Ezra Miller), the powerful Obscurial who was responsible for much of the death and destruction in the first film. Also searching for Credence is Albus Dumbledore (Jude Law), a Hogwarts professor who enlists the help of one of his former students, Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne), to find him.
To do so, Newt must travel to Paris through unconventional means, having been banned from traveling by the Ministry of Magic, following his involvement in the events of the previous film. He is accompanied by his good friend, Jacob Kowalski (Dan Fogler), a Muggle (No-Maj? Can't-Spell?) whose memory was wiped at the end of the last film but has since been regained. They run into Tina (Katherine Waterston), Newt's love interest, and Yusuf (William Nadylam), a mysterious wizard, and they must all work together to find Credence before Grindelwald finds and uses him to bring about his vision of a new world order.
Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald attempts to deepen the Harry Potter lore while also setting up events for the subsequent parts yet to come, but in so doing, it fails to capture the imagination in the same way its predecessors did. Much like the first film, the movie lacks that "magic" that made the Harry Potter books and movies so great to begin with. It tries to make up for this with callbacks to those movies, and I'll admit, it was nice seeing a young Dumbledore teaching Defense Against the Dark Arts. But those moments were few and far between.
The fact that it felt like there was so much setup going on also didn't help. This is one area where I wish the story had been told in the form of books instead, to allow its various characters and plot lines room to breathe and develop. In its current form, the whole thing feels like a heavily convoluted race towards a finish line that is still at least three movies away. All that said, the movie still offers enough of the high production values and great performances that fans have come to expect, so it is definitely worth checking out if you happen to be one.