The second instalment of the Fantastic Beasts franchise hit the screens last week in the form of The Crimes of Grindelwald, and is every childhood Harry Potter fan’s dream – theoretically. Taking place three years after the original film, Newt (Eddie Redmayne) has now published his eponymous book on magical creatures. Having been dealt a travel ban he is stuck in England, and can only travel if he agrees to apprehend Credence (Ezra Miller) who is still alive despite his apparent death in the first movie. In the meantime Grindelwald (Johnny Depp) has escaped from prison and fled to Paris,with Tina (Katherine Waterston) hot on his tale. Newt is recruited by a young Albus Dumbledore (Jude Law) to go after Grindelwald, and heads to Paris in pursuit, accompanied by Queenie (Alison Sudol) and Jacob (Dan Fogler). Chaos ensues as the plot becomes increasingly convoluted, and the instalment is exposed for the filler film that it is.
Major plot points of the first instalment are rendered pointless by lazy writing, and it becomes clear that the film has just been created as a means to introduce new characters and could easily have been compiled into an extra 30 minutes in one of the other four instalments. Rather than a satisfying storyline the film leaves us with more questions, and not ones that are necessarily going to be answered. Questions for example, such as: where on earth did Leta Lestrange appear from? And in what universe could Grindlewald’s prison break be considered plausible?
Of course, the film has its positives. Eddie Redmayne is consistent in his loveable and goofy portrayal of Newt, but it’s Jude Law who manages to steal the show, despite only being in a handful of scenes. His take on Dumbledore manages to retain the essence distilled so well by Richard Harris and Michael Gambon, whilst still bringing something of his own to the character. The wise and candid personality remains but is joined by a vulnerability rarely seen before.
Ultimately The Crimes of Grindelwald may be a bit of a rollercoaster ride for the die-hard fans among us, containing hints of clever plots points and stand-out performances. However when future movie critics look back upon the franchise as a whole this instalment will certainly not be remembered most favourably.
Image: Jaap Buitdendijk.