♦ Tripwire’s editor-in-chief Joel Meadows reviews Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes Of Grindelwald, out now in cinemas in the UK and US…
Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes Of Grindelwald
Director: David Yates
Stars: Eddie Redmayne, Katherine Waterston, Kevin Guthrie, Zoe Kravitz, Callum Turner, Ezra Miller, Jude Law, Johnny Depp
The first Fantastic Beasts film, out in 2016, was a pleasant if rather unremarkable affair. Considering just how much of a money maker the Harry Potter films were for Warner Bros., it was inevitable that the studio would want to continue to give the world of Potter a presence at the cinema and so here we are two years later with another Fantastic Beasts film, The Crimes Of Grindelwald. Grindelwald was introduced at the end of the first film, played by Johnny Depp. He is a wizard gone bad, who also happens to be the ex lover of Professor Dumbledore. Jude Law plays young Dumbledore here and there has been much discussion about the fact that the character is gay.
The problem with Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes Of Grindelwald is that it suffers from many of the flaws that made the Harry Potter films mostly forgettable. You have an intriguing world which is fairly well fleshed-out, populated by colourful figures, but what you don’t really have is any proper characterisation. Redmayne’s Scamander is a scatty, black sheep of the family whereas his brother, Theseus, played by Callum Turner, is a stalwart member of the Ministry of Magic. Grindelwald is a flamboyant but very misguided demagogue bent on creating a world where the Muggles are subservient to the purebloods who possess the magical abilities. Ezra Miller plays Creedence, a man with a dark secret that is revealed at the film’s conclusion.
Visually it is very impressive with some of the best effects work seen anywhere but it can’t cover up the fact that the script here is very flimsy. It feels like a series of well-constructed setpieces stitched together into a two hour plus film. The actors have little to do here. Jude Law almost turns in an interesting performance as young Dumbledore, torn between saving the world and trying to rehabilitate his former love, Grindelwald. Redmayne still comes across as a bit of a Doctor Who reject too, with his bumbling and facial tics. Depp looks fairly good here but his villain is just a pantomime adversary.
It has to be said that some films are immune from the critics’ response and I am pretty sure that The Crimes Of Grindelwald will do big business at the box office (its Friday receipts are estimated to be in the $25m region as of this writing). Also, there are enough Harry Potter fans out there who are desperate to enter Rowling’s wizarding world on the big screen another time. But for this viewer, Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes Of Grindelwald is a beautiful but empty and unengaging experience that is far too long and will escape your brain almost as soon as you have left the cinema. It gets three stars purely because of its visuals.
Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes Of Grindelwald is out now.