Directed by: David Yates
Starring: Eddie Redmayne, Johnny Depp, Jude Law, Zoe Kravitz, Ezra Miller, Katherine Waterston, Callum Turner, Claudia Kim, Alison Sudol, Dan Fogler
Genre: Adventure, Family, Fantasy
Release Date: 16 November 2018
Budget: $200 million
Running Time: 134 Minutes
Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald Movie Review
Beautiful girls transform into snakes, men transmute into faces they choose to become. The sense and sensibility of a whole lot of unusual creatures is explained thus; there are no strange creatures, only people are blinkered. Welcome once again to the magical and surreal world of JK Rowling, the billionaire author of the famed Harry Potter series. Only the world that gets rolling in this spin off of the Harry Potter Universe is not even half as enchanting as the series with which she and movies based on her books have mesmerized the world.
In the Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald, the second part in Fantastic Beasts franchise, Rowling attributes writing of the screenplay thus; it grew out of things that are very important to me in the world at the moment.”
Never mind, the film is set in 1927.
Indeed, the premise and the promise with which Fantastic Beasts begins seem riveting. Grindelwald (Johnny Depp) is being moved from one confinement to another. To impress upon his prowess and to counter his persuasive skills we are told his tongue has been cut. But can there be a Johnny Depp without his deep resonant voice? Soon he wrests control and sets on his mission which besides setting off wizards against non-magical people also includes finding out Credence Barebone (Ezra Miller).
Credence’s ancestry, pure blood and all, holds the key to the plot and everyone from Grindelwald to the Ministry of Magic to Newt are out to get/protect him. Expectedly, there is action and reaction in the quest where Credence is equally eager to find out who he is. Clearly, there is mystery, mystique rolled out as spectacle and served on the platter.
The Rowlingscape, however, is too crowded, too many characters and a whole lot of love tracks (and gay subtext involving Jude Law as Albus Dumbledore too) are thrown in with little impact. The storyline anyway runs on thin ice, is more a string of competently executed visuals. One redeeming feature of course is Depp. He rises above the gimmickry and special effects and pitches in a fine performance.
Eddie Redmayne as Newt Scamander a “magizoologist” is credible too even though his dalliance with creatures fails to cast a spell. Just as Queenie’s (Alison Sudol) spell over American Jacob (Dan Fogler) is broken in the first few scenes we too come out of it pretty early on. Between family trees and strange looking beasts, the narrative hops steps and jumps all too quickly yet not compellingly.
The best we hope is reserved for the climax and the build-up with Grindelwald at the centre of it has a few moments. In who is taken in by his evil charm and who escapes his wily ways lies a bit of suspense.
However, we don’t come out of theatres enchanted. Diehard Potterheads might be smitten as well as looking forward to the third part in this five series franchise, the room for which expectedly is left wide open with some beans already spilled.