Film Review: Fantastic Beasts 2: The Crimes of Grindelwald

To revisit the magical wizarding world which we have all grown to momentously adore is rather special - it isn’t often that we are given a second diverging narrative within the same franchise. While JK Rowling’s new adventure, Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald , does make its prominence in its finite choices of mise-en-scene, casting and intricate intertwining storylines, it loses magic in tangling the audience in too many unanswered questions, leaving the film to almost represent a trailer for the action that is yet to come.  

Posing as the sequel to Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (2016), the film continues to delve into the wrath of Gellert Grindelwald (Johnny Depp), a powerful wizard who has fallen into the temptation of ultimate rule. After managing to escape from the clutches of the American Ministry of Magic, Grindelwald commences his mission of not only recruiting wizards and witches to his allegiance but more prominently, in rediscovering the key to ultimate destruction, Credence Barebone (Ezra Miller). And so, with the bad guys on the loose and a premeditated havoc to come, we revisit the quirky Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne) and his fellow acquaintances and follow their struggle of not only interfering with Grindelwald’s plans, but also in finding solution to raging internal conflict. Joined with a plentiful amount of fresh faces, including Jude Law, Zoë Kravitz and Claudia Kim, the film makes use of detailed backstories and evenly staggered action scenes, leading to a well-deserved run-time of just over two hours.

From New York to London to Paris, the film effortlessly transcends across terrains of beauty and fame of the late 1920’s. Dedicated as the backbone to the film’s mise-en-scene, the numerous locations act as a prime factor in bolstering the film to become something visually spectacular, ranging from a chaotic yet compelling storm over the Statue of Liberty to a quaint Parisian street, complete with cobblestone road and ornate residences.

 

Tie this in with Colleen Atwood’s bold and positively bizarre costume design, which primarily consists of exaggerated dark tones, and we as an audience are presented with a piece of entertainment that is in essence, beautiful to look at. There is even a chance to return to the familiar corridors of Hogwarts, which caused for softened squeals of excitement and bulged eyeballs to engulf the cinema.

 

Fiona Weir’s casting in the film is also to be commended, which ultimately allows for numerous actors and actresses to shine in their respective roles. While Johnny Depp successfully portrays the wickedness of Grindelwald in a sly yet quietly charming manner, Jude Law excels in creating the mysterious and subtly rebellious Albus Dumbledore of which we have grown to love. Additionally, Zoë Kravitz shines as the cryptic Leta Lestrange – there was always an urge to learn more about her – alongside Alison Sudol who gives a new depth to her fascinating character of Queenie Goldstein. Whether there could have been a reduction to the number of new characters introduced does remain a valid question. Let’s just hope there aren’t 10+ new faces in the next film – we would really need the sorting hat then.

To be presented with an abundance of intertwining storylines is overwhelming to say the least. As a hint turns into a connection, a separate lead develops into a mystery, making an understanding of the film to become the most desirable goal. For most of the film, this response is positive with the various twists and turns successfully evoking a deep engagement with the events unfolding on screen.

Yet upon arriving at the film’s end, there remains one question which is unable to ignored – what is resolved?

While so much is explored in the film through each of the intertwining storylines, there is ultimately no conclusion to each of these well-constructed singular narratives. It would be like Harry Potter making his way to confront Lord Voldemort in the forest and then leaving abruptly because it was too cold. Even though part of a franchise with more sequels scheduled, it is important for this film to have a purpose, something to complement and consolidate it’s strong and captivating start. Now, we can only hope for the future films to provide answers to the questions left hanging.

 

In essence, Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald does justice to the first film of the new franchise – it is quirky, electric and visually captivating. Yet while Warner Bros’ new instalment does manage to include an abundant amount of enchantment, it also struggles to untangle itself from the whomping willow of multiple storylines to provide necessary resolution. As the director of multiple films from the Harry Potter franchise, we know to confidently trust in David Yates. We just can’t let him be distracted by so many Fantastic Beasts and lose sight of the three R’s: refine, resolve and… riddikulus .