Fantastic Beasts: the Crimes of Grindelwald12¦ Blu-ray, 3D, 4K, DVD
After the final Harry Potter film disappeared from our screens and lives, there was a resounding sense of finality over such wizardry exploits. Sadly that was just wishful thinking.
2016 saw the release of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, written by chief wizard J.K Rowling, it focused on the exploits of a young British wizard, set in the existing Harry Potter kingdom, albeit 65 years before.
It did pretty well, and so this, the obligatory sequel, was about as much a sure thing as you can possibly get.
During the transportation of Gellert GrindelWald (Johnny Depp) from his maximum security prison in New York to London, the evil mage escapes.
Meanwhile, back in London, Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne) is in front of the Ministry of Magic, hoping to be allowed to travel around the world once again, after this particular privilege was revoked after all that happened in New York.
He’s given the thumbs up, but on one condition: he help track down Credence Barebone (Ezra Miller), who they’ve heard has turned up in Paris. As he’s not keen on this stipulation, he turns it down, thus ending his chances of legally leaving the country.
When he hears that Tina Goldstein (Katherine Waterston) - who he still has the hots for, and, due to some fake news in Spellbound magazine, now believes he’s engaged to someone – he decides to make his way to gay Paris, even if it does mean doing so illegally.
Tina, who is unaware of Newt’s imminent arrival, is busy tracking down Barebone in the French capital, who is following a lead to track down his birth mother. But she’s not the only one hot on his heels, as a certain mage is keen to recruit young Barebone to team Grindelwald. But who will get to him first?
Although set in the same universe as Potter, the fact that the first Fantastic Beasts took place earlier, and introduced a new character, gave it the opportunity to stand on its own clawed feet. It was essentially the story of a wand-wielding Doctor Dolittle, who collected mythical beasts in a Pokémon styley, and to that end was fairly enjoyable.
Once again directed by Potter alumni David Yates, with another script scribed by Rowling, this sequel would have to swerve massively from the original to cock-up. And that’s exactly what it does.
With this second outing, the story borrows heavily on the original Potter franchise, both in bringing back a familiar setting in Hogwarts, and a key character in a young Dumbledore, played by Jude Law. In doing so, it loses its originality, and almost admits to not being strong enough a concept to go it alone.
What’s worse is that the script is sorely overwritten, with a convoluted storyline that fails to engage on any level. Rowling may well know how to write a page turner, but on this evidence, her scriptwriting skills are far from being top of the class.
It’s disappointing that one of Britain’s brightest acting talents in Redmayne is reduced to playing such a bland, two dimensional character, surrounded by a truly dull supporting cast. The one exception being Depp, who takes to playing a baddie with aplomb, it’s just a shame he has to spout so much garbage.
The film is a boring, flat piece of filmmaking and despite all the hocus pocus, the irony is this film is deeply lacking one essential, key ingredient: magic.