Film review: Fantastic Beasts – The Crimes of Grindelwald

Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald is one of the most expected sequels for 2018 and it does not disappoint. I expect it to be one of the best and most watched movies over the school holidays with fans of Harry Potter flowing into cinemas to find out the connections between the Harry Potter world and the Fantastic Beasts stories. The stellar cast is unsurprisingly good with lead characters played by Johnny Depp (the villain and powerful Dark wizard Gellert Grindelwald),  Eddie Redmayne (wizard and eccentric zoologist Newt Scamander with a passion for fantastic beasts – a character we know and love from the previous film), and  Jude Law (as the young Dumbledore). It will be very tough for any movie to surpass the brilliance of Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald this Christmas. 

The story

Warner Bros. Pictures’ Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald is the second of five all new adventures in J.K. Rowling’s Wizarding World™. At the end of the first film, Gellert Grindelwald was captured by MACUSA (Magical Congress of the United States of America), with the help of Newt Scamander. But, making good on his threat, Grindelwald escaped custody and has set about gathering followers, most unsuspecting of his true agenda: to raise pure-blood wizards up to rule over all non-magical beings. In an effort to thwart Grindelwald’s plans, Albus Dumbledore 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 film features an ensemble cast led by Eddie Redmayne, Katherine Waterston, Dan Fogler, Alison Sudol, Ezra Miller, Zoë Kravitz, Callum Turner, Claudia Kim, William Nadylam, Kevin Guthrie, Carmen Ejogo, Poppy Corby-Tuech, with Jude Law and Johnny Depp. Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald is directed by David Yates, from a screenplay by J.K. Rowling. The film is produced by David Heyman, J.K. Rowling, Steve Kloves and Lionel Wigram. Tim Lewis, Neil Blair, Rick Senat and Danny Cohen serve as executive producers. The film reunites the behind-the-scenes creative team from the first Fantastic Beasts film, including Oscar-winning director of photography Philippe Rousselot (A River Runs Through It), three-time Oscar-winning production designer Stuart Craig (The English Patient, Dangerous Liaisons, Gandhi, the Harry Potter films), four-time Oscar-winning costume designer Colleen Atwood (Chicago, Memoirs of a Geisha, Alice in Wonderland, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them), and Yates’ longtime editor Mark Day (the last four Harry Potter films). The music is by eight-time Oscar nominee James Newton Howard (Defiance, Michael Clayton, The Hunger Games films). Slated for release on 16 November 2018, the film will be distributed worldwide in 2D and 3D in select theatres and IMAX by Warner Bros. Pictures, a Warner Bros. Entertainment Company.

The trailers and featurettes 

THE MAGIC CONTINUES: FROM HARRY POTTER TO FANTASTIC BEASTS FEATURETTE

The connection has always been there.  Watch this brand new featurette now to discover how Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald is connected to the Harry Potter series.

This clip follows a previously released clip which dives into Dumbledore’s journey through the years with Jude Law and J.K. Rowling, which you can watch here: 

The verdict 

The special media screening we attended at the IMAX Cineworld Leicester Square was introduced nonetheless by the cast. The chemistry among the actors was visible as they spoke highly of the ‘notoriously best film set in the world’.

The film is over two hours long but it flows well and is filled with intricate stories that complement nicely the Harry Potter novels.  

Compared to the first Fantastic Beasts movie, this sequel is darker and scarier. The characters’ past is revealed to shed some light on some of the back stories underlining the Harry Potter books. One of the most charming and enigmatic figures is the young Dumbledore played by Jude Law, who persuades Newt that he must travel to Paris to find Credence and confront his own destiny.  Albus was Newt’s teacher at Hogwarts, and there is a very funny flashback scene when he encourages younger Newt to come face-to-face with his boggart, the form of his worst fear. Newt’s greatest fear is having an office job, so his boggart is a desk.

The casting director did a great job in recruiting Law and Depp as key characters in The Crimes of Grindelwald. I have heard lots of conversations about Dumbledore’s homosexuality and his teenage romance with Grindelwald. I can see the appeal of this story as a stepping stone for a third movie exploring the relationship between Dumbledore and Grindelwald. 

Johnny Depp is extraordinary as the dark wizard and villain Gellert Grindelwald, a real-world version of Voldemort. Nobody else in Hollywood would be able to pull such a performance. He brings quirkiness to the character without making him look too impossible in real life. That’s what makes him really scary. I would have loved to see Johnny Depp more in the film, though. His monologue towards the end is brilliant when he tries to convert wizards to join his side by telling them the truth. 

Redmayne / Newt is an engaging hero and his adventures will certainly make for an enjoyable ride. Brace yourself as there are three more sequels in the planning. Newt showcases the Hufflepuff lovable nature and Dumbledore praises his dedication to doing what is right. This provides Harry Potter fans with more backstories on the Wizarding World. 

It’s a shame that Jacob and Queenie haven’t got big roles in this film as my 12 year old son thought they were the funniest characters in the first movie. 

Although The Crimes of Grindelwald is more about crimes than beasts, Newt’s loyal and sparkle-maniac creature Niffler is the one that steals the show with its delightfully naughty personality. Along with the little tree creature, Niffler is probably the most lovable character among the beasts.

And he manages to save the day by robbing Grindelwald from his most precious possession, a trinket containing the drops of his and Dumbledore’s blood that symbolised and encapsulated the pact that the two once befriended wizards made never to fight against each other.  

Last but not least both children and parents loved the special effects particularly the dragon ghost created by Grindelwald at the end to fight against Newt and his gang. There are a few new fascinating creatures in Newt’s personal zoo: one algae ‘dragon’ who lives under Newt’s magical house in London and a Chinese dragon that becomes really docile when he sees a fluffy rattle. 

Why watch Fantastic Beasts on an iMax screening

We sent our film critic Isaac Martin to watch the movie at the iMax BFI near Waterloo station and that’s what he had to say about that spectacular screening: 

‘If you’re going to experience the richly detailed and intricate Wizarding World of JK Rowling where better to do it than on a screen bigger than your house? Unlike any other screen I’ve ever seen the IMAX really is immersive; it’s so big you couldn’t see anything else even if you wanted to, it’s impossible not to get drawn in. In a film series like Fantastic Beasts where the attention to detail in every scene, where every prop, every costume, every background detail was chosen and created deliberately, where the scenery and special effects are so incredible, there is no better place to see it than on the biggest screen in the country! That’s without even praising the surround sound in the auditorium, or the seats, which are incredibly comfy. And there doesn’t seem to be a bad seat in the house, which is good, because a family ticket (2 adults, 2 children) is £73! And that’s before snacks, drinks and travel costs. 
 
But for a special treat? Someone’s birthday maybe? If it’s something like Fantastic Beasts then it just might be worth it.’ 

Kids Club rating: 8.5/10

London Mums’ rating: 8/10 

Fantastic Beasts Wands installation in London 

Launched by the Grenadier Guards performing a live rendition of music from the Harry Potter and Fantastic Beasts films, nine giant wands lit up Peter’s Hill in London for the first time between the end October each evening until 13thNovember. The installation, part of the City of London Arts Initiative for public art, was created to help raise awareness for J.K. Rowling’s international children’s charity Lumos in the lead-up to the movie release. 

Head prop maker Pierre Bohanna, who created the wands used in the Fantastic Beasts and Harry Potter films in close collaboration with J.K. Rowling, was at the event and spoke about how it felt to see his props transformed into fifteen-foot models to be enjoyed by the public. Each of these wands were born in the extraordinary imagination of J.K. Rowling, and bringing them to life has been a labour of love for Stuart Craig and all the filmmakers, artists and actors who’ve had a hand in their creation for the films.  

Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald is in cinemas 16 November. 

 

Related features

Film review: Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (out on 18 November 2016)

Alice in Wonderland & Mad Hatter 151st anniversary special: dolls’ reviews & THE Johnny Depp’s interview

 

About Monica Costa

Monica Costa founded London Mums in September 2006 after her son Diego’s birth together with a group of mothers who felt the need of meeting up regularly to share the challenges and joys of motherhood in metropolitan and multicultural London. London Mums is the FREE and independent peer support group for mums and mumpreneurs based in London https://londonmumsmagazine.com and you can connect on Twitter @londonmums

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