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Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald

Opening Date
15 Nov 2018
PG Some Disturbing Scenes
134 mins
English - subtitles to be advised
Adventure, Family, Fantasy
David Yates
Eddie Redmayne, Katherine Waterston, Alison Sudol, Dan Fogler, Johnny Depp, Jude Law
Warner Bros. Pictures’ “Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald” is the second of five all new adventures in J.K. Rowling’s Wizarding World™. At the end of the first film, the powerful Dark wizard Gellert Grindelwald (Johnny Depp) was captured by MACUSA (Magical Congress of the United States of America), with the help of Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne). But, making good on his threat, Grindelwald escaped custody and has set about gathering followers, most unsuspecting of his true agenda: to raise pure-blood wizards up to rule over all non-magical beings. In an effort to thwart Grindelwald’s plans, Albus Dumbledore (Jude Law) enlists his former student Newt Scamander, who agrees to help, unaware of the dangers that lie ahead. Lines are drawn as love and loyalty are tested, even among the truest friends and family, in an increasingly divided wizarding world.
By Say Peng  15 Nov 2018
Despite its narrative flaws, ‘Fantastic Beats: The Crimes of Grindelwald’, with its visual flair, attention to detail, and boundless sense of fun, is still an enjoyable and thrilling outing, especially for Potterheads.
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Directed once again by David Yates, who had directed the last 3 Harry Potter films and the first Fantastic Beasts film, and written by J. K. Rowling herself, ‘The Crimes of Grindelwald’ picks up from the ending of the first film, in which Grindelwald (played safely and tonelessly by Johnny Depp), a kind of proto-Voldemort who desires for wizards to rule the world, was exposed and captured in America. During his transfer to London, Grindelwald escapes and sets about to gather his followers as well as to locate Credence Barebone (Ezra Miller). Meanwhile, Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne puts in a better performance) is approached by a much younger Albus Dumbledore (played magnificently by Jude Law) who persuades Newt to find Credence before Grindelwald does.

This is the main plot of the film, but Rowling has decided to over-ambitiously insert multiple subplots to the extent that the film suffers from narrative bloatedness and many key characters are underdeveloped. There is a romantic triangle between Newt, his Auror brother Theseus, and Newt’s old flame Leta Lestrange who is currently engaged to Theseus that doesn’t go anywhere; not forgetting also the key romantic subplot between Newt and Tina Goldstein (Katherine Waterston), whose role in the film is comparatively very much reduced.

Credence, meanwhile, turns out to be alive (he allegedly died in the first film). He’s working in Paris, in a wizarding circus under a cruel ringmaster. Since the events of the first film, Credence has been looking for his birth parents. His only friend in the circus is the Maledictus Nagini (Korean actress Claudia Kim), the future pet snake of Voldemort. They too have some budding romance that is not explored.

Essentially, ‘The Crimes of Grindelwald’ is the second half of the First Act of 5-movie ‘Fantastic Beasts’ franchise. If ‘Fantastic Beasts’ was a TV series and ‘The Crimes of Grindelwald’ was the second episode, it would be perfect. But a movie has to stand on its own, and ‘The Crimes of Grindelwald’ feels like a chapter torned out of a missing book. Even for a Potterhead, this reviewer finds it a challenge to follow the massive ensemble of characters. One is advised to, at least, (re)watch the first film before watching ‘The Crimes of Grindelwald’.

Rowling made very sure to reward her loyal fans by generously sprinkling treats throughout the film. We get to revisit Hogwarts and see Dumbledore teach a Defense Against the Dark Arts class, and the centuries-old Nicolas Flamel and his famous stone makes a delightful appearance. Despite its narrative flaws, ‘The Crimes of Grindelwald’, with its visual flair, attention to detail, and boundless sense of fun, is still an enjoyable and thrilling outing, especially for Potterheads.
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