Visually Stunning But Frustratingly Lacklustre Sequel
When it comes to J.K. Rowling’s imagination, there’s a certain wondrous fascination that comes with seeing the way she brings the Wizarding world to life. From the various creatures of all shapes and sizes to the magic and rules the inhabitants abide by, every one of these films have absolutely nailed the aesthetic and visual design of the world. Crimes Of Grindelwald is no exception.
Unfortunately the rest of the film falls flat, spending almost its entire run time setting up events for the next film in the franchise and failing to resolve any of the plot in this 2 hour flick. Frustrating is probably the best word to describe this one and despite the best efforts of those involved, Crimes Of Grindelwald fails to inspire the same excitement and satisfaction previous films have managed to conjure. Harry Potter fans are unlikely to care though, given the spectacular special effects and various little nods toward the previous films, making it one of the best looking but also most underwhelming films of the year.
The story picks up some time after the events of Fantastic Beasts & Where To Find them with the notorious Grindelwald (Johnny Depp) escaping from Azkaban, hell bent on continuing his crusade for Pure-Bloods to take over the wizarding and muggle (non-wizard) worlds alike. While this threat looms on the horizon, the Ministry Of Magic debate on whether to allow Newt (Eddie Redmayne) to travel internationally, offering him this benefit in return for working for the Ministry. After reuniting with Kowalski (Dan Fogler), the two find themselves inadvertently mixed up in Grindelwald’s world-spanning mission, culminating in a clash of ideas and beliefs as Dumbledore and Grindelwald draw lines in the sand, teasing an upcoming battle between the two.
Much has been said of the performances of both Johnny Depp and Jude Law as Grindelwald and Dumbledore respectively but both do absolutely fine in their roles. With the exception of a few over-acted, melodramatic mannerisms late on, Depp actually does a pretty good job playing the antagonist in this one whilst Jude Law plays his older counterpart well, with an injection of steely determination for good measure.
The darker, more serious tone next to the child-like wonder of the magic and score is something Rowling’s wizarding world has always struggled with. Even the later Harry Potter films had issues with this but many disguised this with a memorable set of charismatic characters to. Crimes Of Grindelwald does not. With that in mind, this is not the sort of film for families and the sinister edge to a lot of the plotting here makes it a film only those accustomed with this universe can ideally go into and understand what’s happening. Despite a return of some of the characters from the last film and younger versions of others from the Potter universe, the latest Fantastic Beasts film fails to really nail its characters, presenting a moody world lacking people to really get behind and root for.
From the various shots of Hogwarts to teasing tidbits of dialogue referencing specific events or places, the film does a fantastic job with its world building and you truly do feel like this is a film set in the Wizarding World we’ve grown up with over the years. For that alone Crimes Of Grindelwald deserves some praise and visually at least the film is arguably one of the best looking out of every film that’s come before it.
For those who have never been a fan of the franchise and others after a more memorable story than what’s come before are sure to leave disappointed. Crimes Of Grindelwald squanders its potential with a lacklustre follow-up, one that’s as beautiful to look at as it is frustrating to watch with a plot setting up nicely for a follow-up but forgetting to inject one into this emotionless, forgettable sequel.