Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald
With the success of the first instalment still fairly fresh in the memories of wizarding world fanatics, JK Rowling has been busy bashing keys and injecting her own magic touch into a highly anticipated followup to her 2016 Harry Potter prequel. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them gave the franchise a welcome return to the big screen, thanks in no small part to the performances of its key central characters, who not only opened eyes and broadened minds to a larger magical world, but also gave historical context to tales and legends that had only been spoken of momentarily in its Hogwarts-based predecessors. This second epic instalment continues in this vein, providing substantial depth and heart to friendly faces, and consequentially building a narrative that opens the next door for what is to come throughout this planned five-part series. A cash cow? Maybe. But as long as these new movies continuously impress, who can complain?
Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald picks up shortly after its forerunner left off. The capture of the great wizard Gellert Grindelwald (Johnny Depp) has not gone unnoticed in the magic community, with ministries across the world wishing for justice and security to be delivered. As expected, however, this opportunity does not arise as the infamous sorcerer escapes his captors and flees in search of recruits to join his cause for wizarding dominance of non-magic folk – including Credence Barebone (Ezra Miller), the teenage obscurus who will no doubt prove the most powerful asset when battling Albus Dumbledore (Jude Law).
Meanwhile, magizoologist Newt Scamander has problems of his own, having returned to London to ask the Ministry of Magic – which includes his aura brother Theseus (Callum Turner) – to remove his international travel ban. When this is refused due to his snubbing of a ministry job, Dumbledore tasks Newt instead with finding Credence in Paris, thus beginning his next adventure, undertaken with the help of love interest Tina Goldstein (Katherine Waterston), as well as Queenie (Alison Sudol) and No-Maj Jacob (Dan Fogler). But as storm clouds begin to gather, the wizarding world is about to experience a divide never encountered before.
The Fantastic Beasts cast is continuing to grow at a terrific rate, with the latest addition of Law proving to be a charismatic inclusion that not only brings a well-executed depiction of everyone’s favourite wizard, but which also compliments Depp’s counterpart to the extent that the pair’s hugely complex relationship would not go amiss in its own multi-million pound spin-off (a prequel to the prequel, if you will). Depp’s ruthless Grindelwald runs tyrannical in a style only such an actor is capable of, and yet the character shows glimpses of being an anti-villain in his aims, something that has become far more fashionable in recent years – a stern reminder that this “bad guy” is not going to be the same as Lord Voldemort.
The magical world continues to grow in style and visual prowess, displaying how far CGI has come since Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, but although cinematically awe-inspiring, the decision to shoot a large number of scenes from a first-person perspective can make the filming appear thoughtless and rushed. The experimentation with visual effects also raises questions about inconsistency regarding past events in previous films, one being why such a furore was caused over muggles seeing magical occurrences in earlier movies and then none raised when half of Paris is blanketed in black silk sheets. Pinikity, yes, but important nonetheless.
The writing talents of Rowling go undisputed, yet surprisingly this film falls victim to becoming simply a “set up” for future instalments, with little to no direction, substance or purpose to the plot, eventually resulting in an abrupt unravelling and a climax that is superseded by the feature’s closing scene. Due to the expansion of the cast, some characters fall into the shadows, with Jacob losing the fierce drive that was so vital to his role in the first film and becoming little more than comic relief. There is also the introduction of Nagini (Claudia Kim) that sadly goes criminally underdeveloped, so we will have to wait and see if that can be rectified in the future.
Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald is good fun in the form of an average movie. If you love Harry Potter then you’ll love this sequel, but I firmly believe that the next film can do better.
Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald is released nationwide on 16th November 2018.
Watch the trailer for Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald here: