Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald movie cast: Eddie Redmayne, Jude Law, Johnny Depp, Zoe Kravitz, Ezra Miller, Dan Fogler, Alison Sudol, Katherine Waterston
Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald movie director: David Yates
Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald movie rating: 3 stars
For the true believers of Harry Potter (and we are talking belief that lasts seven books, three spin-off books, eight movies, one play, and now two prequels, with more to come), there is only one enduring mystery left. J K Rowling can still spin some magic out of that pen, but it is really about Dumbledore. Who he was, and was he — ahem, ahem — gay?
The Crimes of Grindelwald was supposed to be that film to give us that answer. The first comes in the juicy form of Jude Law. The headmaster of Hogwarts would have approved of this choice of good-looking dignity (though with lot less hair) to play him in his younger self, and Law jumps right into what is required of him. Except even Law has to stretch himself when it comes to that money shot about the big reveal of his true feelings for Grindelwald. As teens, Dumbledore and Grindelwald share no more than blood — almost comically — and as for words, all that is let in is that they were “more than brothers”.
Well, there are three more films planned, just in this series of Fantastic Beasts, and we may still get that answer. However, the above scene is reflective of all that is wrong with trying to stretch a good thing too far.
While Hogwarts does make an appearance, The Crimes of Grindelwald is far removed from that world of innocence threatened by crimes of the past. The dangers here, drawing parallels with the current atmosphere of xenophobia and megalomania, are more present and, despite all the film’s attempts, pretty confusing. The worlds of magic and non-magic keep crossing, and we are left to figure out where and when.
Where the film scores, and full marks to both Rowling and recurring Harry Potter director Yates here, is in putting their imaginations on screen. There are several fantastic beasts here, on ground, in air, in water, and most of them are jaw-dropping. Grindelwald makes an impressive entry — even if in the shape of Johnny Depp, he essentially remains Johnny Depp, ultra-bleached. Ezra Miller as Credence, the boy over whom they are all fighting, lends a more uneasy aura, and the scene where he goes looking for his mother is set to send some shivers down spines. Zoe Kravtiz, who doesn’t need a wand to cast a spell, is wasted in a role that requires her to moan and groan for some reason we are not entirely sure of.
Eddie Redmayne returns as Newt Sacamander, and continues to play him as the head-tilted, long-haired, shy fellow we have come to expect and tire of.
Other people return too from Fantastic Beasts I, and we remain grateful especially for Sudol. She is the only one who plays it as if unaware of the entire burden of Harry Potter franchise. Round about here, that is as good as it gets.