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|Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald|
dir David Yates
scr JK Rowling
prd David Heyman, Steve Kloves,
JK Rowling, Lionel Wigram
with Eddie Redmayne, Jude Law, Johnny Depp, Katherine Waterston, Zoe Kravitz, Dan Fogler, Alison Sudol, Ezra Miller, Callum Turner, Claudia Kim, Kevin Guthrie, Poppy Corby-Tuech, Carmen Ejogo
release US/UK 16.Nov.18
18/UK Warners 2h14
Chasing shadows: Fogler, Redmayne, Waterston and Turner
|R E V I E W B Y R I C H C L I N E|
It a problem in JK Rowling's Harry Potter novels: hundreds of pages of colourful set-up with little actually happening. And while virtually every shot in this film bursts with whizzy flourishes, the story barely moves. Like the last film, this sets up something still to come. There's more character detail in flashbacks, plus a powerful sense of impending doom, but none of the narrative questions are answered to much satisfaction.
After Grindelwald (Depp) escapes custody in 1927 New York, the wizarding world goes hunting for him. In London, Newt (Redmayne) is banned from travelling unless he works with his auror brother Theseus (Turner). But their plan is to kill Creedence (Miller), the confused young man Grindelwald needs to enact his sinister plan for wizards to rule the earth. Then Newt learns that American auror Tina (Waterston) is in Paris on the case, and mentor Dumbledore (Law) helps him illicitly head there with muggle sidekick Jacob (Fogler), who is looking for Tina's sister Queenie (Sudol).
These busy activities and intertwined quests hold the interest, while the details of the overarching plot remain as murky as the production design. While the digital effects are seamless, the film is relentlessly grey and dark, with an oppressively over-serious tone. So it's great when Depp arrives with some swaggering madness, or Law with a superb twinkle in his eye. And Redmayne gets to have some fun with his scene-stealing menagerie of, well, fantastic beasts.
Redmayne is of course charming in the central role, although he sometimes gets swamped by the general mayhem. His scenes with Law let the audience into his personality a bit, which helps make him more engaging. But everyone else remains somewhat sketchy. Sudol has some texture in her role, but the other women are little more than gorgeous and glowering. As the woman caught between Newt and Theseus, Kravitz has remarkably little to do. And relationships started in the first film go absolutely nowhere here.
That said, there's still plenty to enjoy. The visual effects are stunning, often overwhelming in the way they fill the screen with a series of eye-catching spectacles. And there are superb character moments that offer little moments of resonance, including some pointed political jabs relating both to the period and today. It's just a shame that after two movies (out of a planned five), we're still waiting for the story to take a step forward.
|R E A D E R R E V I E W S|
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© 2018 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall
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