Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald

‘Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald’ shows what can happen when an author writes a screenplay. Cinema history has been littered with successful novelists thinking they can also pen hit movie scripts. This hasn’t always been the case with few writers having the skill to effectively switch between two very different mediums. J.K. Rowling writes only her second screenplay for this ‘Fantastic Beasts’ sequel which is part of the popular ‘Harry Potter’ universe. Sadly it proves that Rowling shouldn’t give up her day job with a lacklustre script quickly sinking into murky confusion.

After powerful dark wizard Gellert Grindelwald (Johnny Depp) escapes custody, he sets about gathering a new band of followers. Aiming to raise wizards and witches so they can rule over non-magical beings, Grindelwald’s plans capture the attention of Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne) and Albus Dumbledore (Jude Law). With the help of an assortment of wizards, they attempt to hold back Grindelwald’s ruthless power before their world is torn asunder.

Although beautiful to look at, ‘Fantastic Beasts: the Crimes of Grindelwald’ is a chore to watch. For fans of the Potter series, who know every minute detail, this may please. For others, who simply want to watch a well-rounded and clearly scripted film, boredom may quickly sink in. There are far too many characters and sub-plots to squeeze into an already over-long movie with Rowling failing to capture the magic of previous Potter films. Those were written by better scriptwriters who knew the basic mechanics of film screenplays.

That isn’t to say ‘Fantastic Beasts 2’ is a total loss as it is clear money has been spent on opulent production design and CGI. These successfully convey the magical world in which all live with the excellent musical arrangements mirroring those of earlier instalments. The performers do their best to not look too confused at the increasingly messy plot with Depp bringing energy in a generally pedestrian production. Overall it feels like a set up for further sequels instead of being its own entity – a mistake a more experienced film writer would have avoided.

‘Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald’ is fair entertainment but could have been much better. Whilst spectacle is provided, it’s done without much heart as all go through the motions until the next sequel. It will still make a fortune as ‘Harry Potter’ fans are nothing if not loyal. But such loyalty will be sorely needed if more mediocre works like this reach the silver screen.

Rating out of 10: 5

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