Set six months after the previous Fantastic Beasts film, the audience is quickly thrust into the action with the introduction of Grindelwald. Wanted for crimes against wizards and muggles in his quest to rule the world. It’s a big change in tone from the whimsical first film to a much more serious adventure. Fans are reintroduced to our characters who have changed somewhat in the past six months, geographically and emotionally. Novices to the Potter world will find the film hard to follow, terms and references are thrown out and very rarely explained, while fans will have their jaws drop and squeal with excitement by the time the credits roll.
Eddie Redmayne reprises his role as Newt Scamander, the expert in magical beasts, now restricted from leaving the country until he can prove he won’t repeat his episode in New York. This time around Newt’s joined by his brother Theseus (Callum Turner), an Auror, who begs him to take a job at the Ministry; in exchange for capturing Credence (Ezra Miller) who has miraculously survived the events of the previous film.
As in the last film, Credence is the driving force of the film, his power as an Obscurus makes him an attractive pawn for Grindelwald as a weapon against Albus Dumbeldore. Jude Law taking great pride in his portrayal of the powerful, but humble wizard. Hiding in Paris, Credence teams up with Nagini (Claudia Kim) to uncover his true family history and understand his magical abilities, all the while he’s followed by the Ministry of Magic, Grindelwald and Newt. Under the pressure of these forces and the enigma surrounding his origins it’s sad to see Credence continue to go through so much hardship in these films, and as the films continue that might not change.
The returning cast of lovable characters is definitely a highlight, seeing Jacob (Dan Fogler), Queenie (Alison Sudol) and Tina (Katherine Waterston) provide much relief and a grounding for Newt’s ‘odd’ behaviour. While the gang is all here, Jacob and Queenie disagree about the future of their relationship – where in America a muggle/wizard relationship is illegal. While Tina (mistakenly) believes Newt has become engaged and ignores him. They struggle to iron out their differences as the hunt for Credence takes precedence. As the characters continue their search it is the magical creatures which steal the show. Providing a beautiful reprieve from the action and drama as the story unfolds.
Crimes of Grindelwald is the second of five scheduled films in this series, so naturally it suffers as middle films do, by not being its’ own film but by setting up the next instalments. There is so much to unpack in this film that it can feel a little heavy with information, characters and plot. It’s a hallmark of Rowling to provide her stories with depth and history that the audience can tap into but there are things here that won’t be resolved just yet. However, the film is still very entertaining, rewarding for the fans and filled with spectacle as well as character, the magic is here while this story is just beginning.
Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald is out today.
Words by Sunny Ramgolam @SunnyRamgolam.
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