After leaving The Crimes of Grindelwald, the tenth film in the Wizarding World cine-verse, your appreciation for J.K. Rowling may reach its lowest point yet. Oh, sure, Fantastic Beasts part one was delightful, and hung together; but that had four main characters and a small smattering of baddies, with humour and minimal complication. Here, she’s gone for the sprawl that made Goblet of Fire such a literary nadir but, on her bizarre quest to blithely practise screenwriting at a $200m level, attempts to squeeze a number of halfway-related B-plots into a cohesive story. The Potter films’ biggest problem was arguably Steve Kloves’ slicing and dicing of the source material; here, you’re praying for his return.
Johnny Depp, thankfully sans love interest, returns as creepy older man Grindelwald, recruiting across Europe. Dumbledore – played by a not-quite scene-stealing, more pleasingly solid Jude Law – wants Newt (a now actively annoying Redmayne) to track down Credence (Miller, unrecognisably boring) for some reason. Zoë Kravitz shines in an expanded role with a few pointless maneuvers, while Katharine Waterston flounders with relative relegation. Shamefully for its stacked cast and such lovely production values, most of this film proves a waste of time, pixels and carbon.
David Yates, still Hollywood’s luckiest journeyman, directs with all the aplomb of someone that’s been doing the same mediocre job for 13 years, stringing Rowling’s scenes together in a bland mid tempo that no longer demands your active investment – heck, as long as the easter eggs are there, right?
There are romantic subplots, a faintly interesting flashback, and other storytelling blocks Rowling has used well in the past; but this is dour, exposition-heavy, strangely under-imaginative, and aggravatingly boring – and what happened to those fantastic beasts? It’s a wasted Christmas release: Crimes of Grindelwald simply lacks that old magic.
CAST: Eddie Redmayne, Katherine Waterston, Jude Law, Johnny Depp, Dan Fogler, Alison Sudol, Ezra Miller, Zoë Kravitz, Callum Turner
DIRECTOR: David Yates
WRITER: J.K. Rowling
SYNOPSIS: The second installment of the Fantastic Beasts series set in J.K. Rowling’s Wizarding World featuring the adventures of magizoologist Newt Scamander.