Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald is out now, following on from 2016’s Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them, and despite having two years to get round to watching any of the Harry Potter movies for the first time, since then, I still haven’t seen a single one. D’oh.
At the time of posting this, IMDB has it at 7.4/10 based on around 11,000 reviews, which isn’t high given that all the fanbois will have voted it 10 before they’ve even seen it.
Eddie Redmayne continues to excel as Newt Scamander, and he’s joined onscreen more often than not with Zoë Kravitz as Leta Lestrange, whilst also filling in some of their backstory, and as they globe-trot around the various Ministries of Magic in 1927 New York, London, Paris (and the film also takes in one other location, which I won’t divulge), I don’t want to go into any major detail about that or any of the plot because, in a film that’s very plot-heavy, you’re best discovering it as you watch. You’re certainly not going to be checking this out if you didn’t see the first film, as all planned five films will run from one to the next.
There’s a fair bit of Queenie Goldstein (Alison Sudol), but a lot less of her sister, Tina (Katherine Waterston), even though she’s second in the cast list; but again, you get the feeling that this is more a Newt/Leta film, and the other characters will make their presence felt along the way.
We do also get quite a lot of the lovely Claudia Kim (Avengers: Age of Ultron) as Nagini (below), who has very special talents…
Meanwhile, Jacob Kowalski (Dan Fogler) is back, even though he was ‘obliviated’ at the end of the first movie, so has forgotten all about the wizarding world, so how has he come back? Well, I’ll leave you to discover that for yourself, but you always knew they were going to find a way as the audience liked him.
Going back to the places, and how come New York is just “New York”, whereas London is “London, England”, and Paris is “Paris, France”. Are JK Rowling’s readers and viewers unable to use a map to look up major capital cities?
Along the way, we see the Hogwarts of its day, there’s still segregation between Wizards and No-Majs, and the only concrete element of the plot I’ll give you is what happens at the start, since Grindelwald (Johnny Depp) is locked up and about to be tried for his crimes, but like Queen, he wants to break free, and where would the film go if he was stuck in a prison forever? With his dodgy eye, he’s basically the new Blofeld, and Redmayne is Bond… James Bond.
As a random observation, there’s a spell of ‘enchantment’ which did seem quite questionable as it’s basically the equivalent of rohypnol, with a view to things getting even worse.
I didn’t bother with 3D, this time. The last live-action film to be actually shot in 3D was 2017’s Transformers: The Last Knight, and FB1’s fake 3D really showed the problems of faking it as everything looks stuck on like cardboard cut-outs. It’s not as if they’re short on budget…
To that end, there was one obvious early moment that was made with 3D in mind, but I got the idea quite well in 2D. Even when a whole whirlwind of this and that was roaring around in 3D last time, it still felt a bit ‘meh’ in terms of whether or not it was actually necessary. For the majority of the time, the picture is intentionally dark, and since 3D glasses would make it darker than a Leonard Cohen song, you’re best leaving that option out.
Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald gives us one or two fantastic beasts, but not many crimes. We see that he likes bumping off non-wizards, and that he has some accomplices to do his dirty work, but is that it?? Sure, the one murder we do witness is very grim in the chosen target, but before watching this, I got the impression that he’d levelled whole cities like a pre-World War II Hitler, and he’s far from that ballpark.
Even when Johnny Depp gets the chance to do a big set-piece – in the final third of the movie, it all does feel like he should’ve had a lot more to do along the way. It’s “The Crimes of Grindelwald”, yet there’s not a huge amount of Grindelwald, either.
JK Rowling doesn’t do post-credits scenes, so the final scene of this movie is what we’d get if she did. I can understand her not wanting to have them, as almost everyone had run off by the time the credits finished, but it would be cool if she did allow them. That said, even those who watch Marvel and DC films, and are well-versed in the ways of their post-credits scenes, don’t always stay until the end!
Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald does feel very much an ‘inbetween’ film*, with the introduction of Jude Law as Albus Dumbledore, and a lot of story being told and explained to the audience as it went on, even though some elements of it did rather wash over me, such as describing a race of individuals as “pure bloods”. There’s also a number of scenes which feel a bit like disconnected set-pieces rather than one whole narrative. I get the impression that No.3 will have a lot more action and, quite frankly, it will need to up its game if it is to make it to five films and have them all completely enjoyable.
To that end, I do think young children are going to get a bit bored with this entry, as well.
(*at least not in a Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi kind of way)
That said, it all looked rather nice, even if half the time, I had absolutely no idea what was going on. In addition, while the first movie is rewatchable, I don’t feel I ever need to see this new one again.
Finally, if you go and see this at Vue Cinemas, there’s one difference with this film which I’ve never come across before. As much as their Head Office can be unrepentant assholes about how they whack of the lights during the end credits to completely disrupt the atmosphere – as well as all the other issues I’ve covered in the past, you’ll be familiar with a pre-film speech from actor Mark Strong (Kingsman: The Golden Circle) about how you should “switch off your phone, and switch off from the outside world”, as well as telling you “No talking”.
This time, instead of “no talking”, he said, “No Fizzing Whispies, so sit back, and leave the Muggle world behind…”.
(Thanks to Laura Flora for confirming the muggle specifics. I knew it was something about muggles, but I didn’t fancy paying a second time 😉 )
Available now are a number of books:
- The Original Screenplay
Movie Magic (Behind the scenes)
Magical Movie Handbook
Lights, Camera, Magic! (The Making of)
The Art of Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald
The Archive of Magic: the Film Wizardry of Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald
And don’t forget the CD soundtrack.
Running time: 134 minutes
Studio: Warner Bros UK
Cinema: Vue Lowry, Salford Quays
Format: Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1 (ARRIRAW (6.5K), Dolby Vision)
Released: November 16th 2018
Director: David Yates
Producers: David Heyman, Steve Kloves, JK Rowling and Lionel Wigram
Screenplay: JK Rowling
Music: James Newton Howard
Newt Scamander: Eddie Redmayne
Grindelwald: Johnny Depp
Jacob Kowalski: Dan Fogler
Tina Goldstein: Katherine Waterston
Queenie Goldstein: Alison Sudol
Leta Lestrange: Zoë Kravitz
Albus Dumbledore: Jude Law
Credence Barebone: Ezra Miller
Nagini: Claudia Kim
Seraphina Picquery: Carmen Ejogo
Mr. Abernathy: Kevin Guthrie
Theseus Scamander: Callum Turner
Torquil Travers (Head of Magical Law Enforcement): Derek Riddell
Arnold Guzman: Cornell S John
Yusuf Kama: William Nadylam
Young Grindelwald: Jamie Campbell Bower
Young Dumbledore: Toby Regbo
Nicolas Flamel: Brontis Jodorowsky
Young Leta Lestrange (13-16 Years Old): Thea Lamb
Young Newt (13-16 Years Old): Joshua Shea
Bunty: Victoria Yeates
Young Leta Lestrange (3-6 Years Old): Ruby Woolfenden
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.