Directed by: David Yates
Screenplay by: J. K. Rowling
Produced by: David Heyman, J. K. Rowling, Steve Kloves and Lionel Wigram
Director of Photography: Philippe Rousselot
Production Designer: Stuart Craig
Costume Designer: Colleen Atwood
Editor: Mark Day
Music by: James Newton Howard
Starring: 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.
The second of five in the Fantastic Beasts series, The Crimes of Grindelwald continues in the days before Harry Potter, back to the 1920s following Magizoologist Newt (Eddie Redmayne) and his beasts (his book now published); and the powerful dark wizard Gellert Grindelwald (Johnny Depp), who was captured in the previous instalment (Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (2016)) and is now held by the MACUSA (Magical Congress of the United States of America).
After six months it’s time to bring the dark wizard to court to face his crimes but during the transfer, Grindelwald explodes onto the screen, making his escape. His mission to gather the pure bloods, to take back their freedom, for wizards to be who they really are, to rule the world and dominate the remaining No-Maj.
Grindelwald doesn’t plan to killing all the No-Maj, ‘The beasts of burden will always be necessary’.
He’s mean but he makes an argument that some wizards find hard to resist. They don’t want to hide in the shadows any longer. They want to rule the world.
The running theme through-out the film is, It’s time to pick a side.
Which is difficult for Newt as he states, ‘I don’t pick sides.’
Professor Albus Dumbledore (Jude Law), unable to fight Grindelwald for mysterious reasons revealed in the film, calls upon Newt to find Credence Barebone (Ezra Miller), the Obscurial (a born wizard whose powers were suppressed to the point of becoming an Obscurus, a parasitical force deadly to its host, usually at a very young age) introduced in the first film.
Dumbledore knows Credence is in Paris looking for his birth mother, to find the love he desperately needs and to find his place in the world. He needs to be found before the silver-tongued charm of Grindelwald captures his power to wield against humanity.
We see the return of Queenie (Alison Sudol) who just wants to love the No-Maj Jacob (Dan Fogler). Tina (Katherine Waterston) returns to the MACUSA as an Auror after reading the news Newt is engaged to his old flame Leta Lestrange (Zoë Kravitz), a misprint in the gossip pages when she’s in fact engaged to Newt’s older brother Theseus (Callum Turner) – awkward!
So there’s more development of characters in this instalment with some complicated entanglements as each fight for the cause, or not.
But Dumbledore knows no matter what, Newt will do what is right.
We travel from America to London to Paris, back to Hogwarts, where we see echoes of familiar characters in their younger years.
And now, in this second instalment, we start to solve some mysteries like how the Maledictus named Nagini (Claudia Kim) (now Credence’s companion) becomes the giant snake.
Rowling clarifies, “A Maledictus is someone who carries a blood curse that, over time, turns them into a beast. They can’t stop it, they can’t turn back. They will lose themselves…they will become the beast with everything that implies.”
And there are other, ‘Aha’ moments that I admit are starting to draw me in.
Director David Yates and screenplay writer J. K. Rowling have reunited along with the creative team so the look of the film is the same with the amazing effects of cavernous spaces and intricate pieces falling into place and locks turning and statues moving, the bright colours of circus and blue fire, to the wonderful beasts including the mischievous Niffler who now has a litter of babies.
Although I adored the critters in the first instalment, I wasn’t as drawn into the story as it was more about setting the foundation for the series (see review here).
Here, we see more of the secrets revealed. And it makes for a different tone of film, shifting from an adventure to a slow-burn mystery.
I’m finding the Fantastic Beasts series more about what comes next, what piece of the puzzle is going to make that character into who they eventually become. And slowly, I can see the story coming together.
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