Lumos! The second part of the ‘Fantastic Beasts’ series has arrived but does the sequel light up the Wizarding World or is it a Boggart best left in the cupboard?
After the events in New York, magizoologist Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne) is forbidden to travel out of the UK. Upon finding out both Credence (Ezra Miller) and Tina Goldstein (Katherine Waterston) are in Paris, the kindly Hufflepuff must try to get to France. However, the dark wizard Grindelwald (Johnny Depp) has escaped from lock-up and is calling on magic folk to take a stand against the powers that tell them they should hide their true selves from Muggles.
So, the biggest problem that lies within J.K. Rowling’s second screenplay is the muddled mess of differing narratives. The first film may not have been outstanding but it carried a simple enough premise with a third act that became a lumbering CGI mess, yet on the whole it was good to follow. However, this movie seems so preoccupied with the setting up of another three films to come, that it never has a breath to focus on a story or character and they eventually become confused and tiresome to keep up with.
Another issue with ‘The Crimes of Grindelwald’ is how distinctly lacking of magical charm it is. The wonderful thing about the ‘Harry Potter’ franchise; however fuelled by nostalgia they may be, is that they possessed a great level of delight and engaging dazzle. It has only been two films and already this part of the Wizarding World has lost its spark, with a story empty of wonder and severely low on coherent adventure for the family to enjoy.
In the grand scheme of things and considering we’re laboured with another trio of Scamander led movies, there may be a great plan concocted by the author of the Potter books but at the moment it feels like it’s a series stuffing way too many Augrey eggs in its basket. There are a couple of entertaining moments and a few of the creatures are well designed, as are the brilliant costumes from previous Oscar winner Colleen Atwood but aside from some solid production, the movie doesn’t seem to know what it is and good luck if the audience is meant to either.
Eddie Redmayne is coasting on auto-pilot as the nearly annoyingly prim and goody two shoes Newt. Katherine Waterston and Ezra Miller get little time to make an impact amongst the zig-zagging of plot-lines. Alison Sudol gets to explore Queenie a touch more which is nice and the newcomer presence of Jude Law as a young Albus Dumbledore is fine enough, he’s got the charisma necessary but feels like he’s rooted at exposition checkpoints for the story. Johnny Depp has the snarl but still should have been recast and now, for worse we’re stuck with him.
There are some flashy visuals and it isn’t terrible but it feels dead behind the eyes. You can’t repel the feeling that this has already become a cheap and hollow shiny cash-grab that the greediest Niffler would love to pocket.