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Monday, December 4, 2023

Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald Review – Magical, but NOT for Muggles

At the end of the first Fantastic Beasts, 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 Grindelwald escapes custody again and has set about gathering followers, most unsuspecting of his true agenda: to raise pure-blood wizards and witches 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.

The Fantastic Beasts sequel has been awaited with bated breaths and Filme Shilmy gives their final verdict on the David Yates film.

Following the first instalment, there are plenty of creatures including the Nifler. On that aspect, the film stays true to its title.

Moreover, there is plenty of magic that enthrals the viewer. It is this that keeps the spirit of Fantastic Beasts alive.

Fortunately, there are are a few novelties in the film.

What’s New?

It is interesting to see the back story of Nagini (Claudia Kim) – the audience witnesses that she is more than being a serpent.

We observe the human form of Nagini and she exudes a tender and compassionate side whilst aiding Credence (Ezra Miller), a fugitive.

We also get to see the backstory of Leta Lestrange (Zoë Kravitz) and for many of us fans, feel nostalgic on seeing Hogwarts in its early stage.

What makes us more nostalgic is seeing the young Albus Dumbledore.

For many years we’ve seen him as this wise, aged and philosophical headmaster.

To see the same wise and philosophical wizard but this time as a professor is quite refreshing.

A connection between Dumbledore and Grindelwald is briefly showcased. But of course, the two characters are not really expected to clash until the next instalment(s).

What works?

The technical aspects including the VFX and camera-work are spellbinding. If anything these factors create the magic on celluloid.

One must mention Yates’ creative prowess with the way he shoots Grindelwald’s escape sequence. This opening sequence is definitely the highlight.

A special mention goes to the crisp and picturesque cinematography. This enhances the magical effects and to witness this in IMAX is fascinating.

In addition, the background score is marvellous – especially during the flashback sequence of Leta during her days at Hogwarts.

Eddie Redmayne is his usual best as Newt Scamander.

Besides a few comic reliefs here and there, we don’t get to see much of his character – although his romantic angle is explored more.

The actors who leave an impact are Claudia, Ezra and Zoë. All three shine in their parts.

Legendary actors Jude Law and Johnny Depp establish their characters in this instalment.

Johnny, as per prior work, yet again depicts the antagonist well.

He doesn’t go overboard in making Grindelwald evil, but having said that, the character lacks the menace which Voldemort had.

Jude is hardly seen in the film. He is merely there for a few scenes and we expected a lot more.

Perhaps Dumbledore’s ‘epic-ness’ is being saved for the forthcoming instalments?

We also see the return of Don Fogler, Alison Sudol and Katherine Waterston, who continue their parts of Jacob, Queenie and Tina (respectively) from the first film.

What’s bad?

Unfortunately, the film’s narrative gets so carried away with backstories that it takes time for the main crux of the movie.

As such, the film drags, especially in the first-half. Never in any of the Wizarding World films has this been the case.

Speaking of the movie’s narrative, we see the romantic angles between Newt-Tina and Jacob-Queenie. I didn’t quite enjoy this love aspect and acts like a speed-breaker to the film’s pace.

Furthermore, some of the characters make some ridiculous decisions which could’ve easily been steered away from.

Given that we are seeing powerful women portrayed in Hollywood and The Crimes of Grindelwald have some strong characters, but they are not utilised well.

Instead, we see them merely as easily-influenced and self-sacrificial when really speaking they should be out there fighting the villain, almost like how Hermione did in the Harry Potter series.

Sure, there is Tina who stands by Newt to combat Grindelwald, but in my opinion, she seems to be reduced merely to a heartbroken and misunderstood love interest.

Final Word?

Unfortunately, this sequel does not quite live up to the vast expectations and it feels like a mess.

It takes so long to get to the main crux of the story & there are so many backstories I literally had to keep note of who’s who.

Out of all Wizarding World films, this sadly seems the most half-baked.

But if you’re a die-hard fan of JK Rowling’s works or the wizarding world, then you will like the film.

Here’s sincerely hoping and wishing the next Fantastic Beasts film is better!

⭐⭐⭐ (3/5 stars).

Anuj Radia
Journalist and film enthusiast.

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