Fantastic Beasts The Crimes Of Grindelwald - This Movie Has Bits That Rock, Bits That Don't
Dir: David Yates
Starring Eddie Redmayne, Katherine Waterston, Jude Law, Johnny Depp, Ezra Miller, Zoe Kravitz, Callum Turner, Carmen Ejojo, Dan Fogler
If Fantastic Beasts 2 had an equivalent amongst the Harry Potter books it would most likely be Deathly Hallows – as it feels like 800 pages of text, only in this case crammed into a single two hour-plus movie. There’s an awful lot of “story” in The Crimes of Grindelwald, a good deal of which does not feel essential. Whole sequences detail flashbacks of one family history immediately followed by yet another family history. Newt’s youth also gets a couple of unneeded flashbacks – largely you suspect to get a good look around Hogwarts again, for the sake of nostalgia as much as anything. At one point they even appear to end up on – and off - the Titanic! It all makes for interesting detail (something Rowling always excelled at, certainly in prose) and all of which feels like it is here to set up the next three movies in this series. All of which remains at times rather dull ,and whilst rarely flabby, just unnecessary here.
Which is not that so that this wizarding world sequel doesn’t have its moments. It starts well, ends well, just gets rather boring in the middle.
The opening involves a spectacular prison break by Depp’s menacing Grindelwald that is visually dazzling and gripping by turn. The reintroduction of Newt is also engaging with Redmayne having found his charming groove in a much more assured manner than last time out. His relationship with Waterston’s Tina is also managed nicely – though Fogler remains a most unsatisfying sidekick, irritating even. The Potterverse starts to align with Harry’s version of events, with the introduction of more history of the Lestrange family, the human that will become Nagini, and the return to Hogwarts, looking as magical as ever. And then of course there is the arrival in the series of the young Albus Dumbledore, beautifully brought to life this time by Jude Law.
But, in a restrained manner, it is Depp who dominates the film, from his air-bound prison break at the start all the way through to his Nazi-esque wizarding world rally towards the end (an analogy cleverly exacerbated by use of WWII imagery). Throughout, he is understated but distinctly malevolent, especially during his rallying scenes, in a climax that strangely makes little use of Newt, the ostensible star of the piece, here confined to the sidelines.
Ezra Miller also impresses as Credence Barebone, the disturbed young man searching for his identity – and, almost inadvertently comically, being filled in on everyone else’s family history along the way. That said, his final reveal is a great one (f you haven’t twigged along the way) and sets up the next film for a major confrontation.
But then again, a good deal of Fantastic Beasts 2 feels like it is mostly here to set up Fantastic Beasts 3. And beyond. And as such – despite its good bits – it remains unsatisfying overall.
"Fantastic Beasts?" Should really be called ""Average Beasts."
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