Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindewald
What makes this film so disappointing is that it is profoundly disappointing.
Though I really liked the first Fantastic Beasts film, the sequel entitled Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindewald is a film whose artistic beauty is the only thing that will prevent you from falling asleep. It is not an exaggeration to say that all of the major characters repeat themselves from beginning to end.
That starts with the very talented Eddie Redmayne who again appears as Newt Scamander, a magizoologist who remains dedicated to helping beasts large and small. He soon becomes involved in a battle with the Fascist wizard Gellert Grindewald (Johnny Depp —- more later) at the request of his former mentor, Albus Dumbledore. Jude Law plays Dumbledore in a largely forgettable role.
While Depp’s Grindewald is on a mission to control the world, Scamander is joined by his old allies, Tina Goldstein (Katherine Waterston), Jacob Kowalski (Dan Fogler) and Queenie Goldstein (Alison Sudol) to try to stop him. But while the battle that you expect to take place doesn’t occur until the film’s ending, nearly everything before then is a series of tedious scenes that are soon followed by other tedious scenes.
Ironically, Fogler’s Kowalski is the only remotely engaging character in the entire film. At least he faces danger without losing his sense of humor. Nonetheless, the film’s lackadaisical quality is reflected by the sad fact that Mr. Remayne appears in nearly every scene walking as if he has some orthopedic problem in one of his shoulders while never changing his facial expression. Regrettably, while Ms. Waterson is a talented actress, this is a two-hour film that would have been better advertised as a sequel to Dazed and Confused.
However, even if you excuse the film’s lackluster quality as set out above, it is robbed of any significance with the grinding performance of Mr. Depp as Grindewald. Like nearly every other character in the movie, good guy or villain, he seldom changes facial expressions. On top of that, his character appears to be a recreation of Adolf Hitler with dyed blonde hair who is seeking to take over the world regardless of who has to die in the process. After all, the film takes place in Europe in 1927.
Quite frankly, I suspect that the only individuals who will enjoy this film are fans dedicated to the entire history of the Harry Potter movies. The screenwriter for this film is J. K. Rowling and Potter aficionados will likely find some fun with the appearance of characters from the old days. For example, Newt’s scheming older brother Theseus Scamander (Callum Turner) reappears with his fiancé Lita Lestrange (Zoë Kravitz), while you will see Ezra Miller playing a terribly confused Credence Barbone who seeks the help of Nagini (Claudia Kim), a mysterious woman who can transform into a giant snake. There are others, but they drift in and out of the film so quickly that they soon lose any significance.
It will be interesting to see what happens in this series as it has been advertised as the second of five films to be released. I can only advise them to rediscover that suspense lies at the heart of all Potter films. Are you listening, Ms. Rowling?