Rowling reunites with David Yates, the director of four "Harry Potter" films, as comfortably as "Fantastic Beasts and Where to find them." The marquee additions, in the meantime, including a toothy role for Johnny Depp (after what amounted to a fleeting cameo) and the introduction of Jude Law as a younger Albus Dumbledore, which, along with some other familiar names, moves this brand expansion closer to the kingdom of "Star Wars" prequels.
As for Eddie Redmayne, the ostensible star as the halting, vulnerable, love-struck Newt Scamander, his role recedes a bit, partly overwhelmed by the whirl of characters close to him and the need for long expository passages, which practically require a card. To briefly recap, "Fantastic Beasts" ended with the malevolent, dangerous Grindelwald not only captured, but also revealed to be Depp, whetting appetites for the sequel to arrive. Not to disappoint, the film opens with a spectacular escape sequence, as the American Ministry of Magic proves itself to be pretty incompetent.
this image from google photo
Having Grindelwald on the loose presents a challenge for Newt, who is enchanted up in the world of wizardly politics, a complicated web to say the least. He is prodded by Dumbledore to pursue the fugitive, leading him, his Muggle pal Jacob (Dan Fogler) and the Ministry of Magic's Tina Goldstein (Katherine Waterston) on a hell-bent chase across Paris in the 1920s.
That basic template barely scratches the surface of all that is going on, with enough flashbacks, name-checks and key secondary players -- including Ezra Miller as Credence, the mysterious linchpin of Grindelwald's master plan; and Leta Lestrange (Zoe Kravitz), Newt's childhood love, like a shotintended to marry his brother -- adding layers of intrigue.
this image from google photo
Depp makes the picture show a villain of a larger magnitude, particularly in a closing sequence where he discovers what motivates him. While Dumbledore isn't around that much, as played by Law he's as enigmatic as ever, strengthening the link to Potter lore, especially for the rules-of-Quid ditch-conversant who eat up every reference to it.
Rowling's script periodically screeches to a halt to putty in those storylines, a tactic perhaps more conducive to novels than films. However, "Fantastic Beasts" does not skimp on the action, with enough fights, chases and imaginative production design and animate beings -- augmented by a particularly good James Newton Howard score -- to occupy those Muggles who mostly just like to watch stuff blow up.
Like the Harry Potter franchise, which built in ambition and intensity while piling on a British talent as the central trio, aged, "Fantastic Beasts" is sinking in for a long drive, with three more movies announced through 2024. It is reasonably clear that run will be profitable for Warner Bros. (Like CNN, a unit of Warner Media). To the extent "The Crimes of Grindelwald" displays more franchise-driven efficiency than electric arc, it's best viewed less as a stand-alone film than a carefully orchestrated steps into the larger pre-Harry world.
click next to watch the Final Trailer of Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald
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