I’m a huge Potterhead. For the uninitiated, that means a fan with a near encyclopedic knowledge of the Harry Potter books by J. K. Rowling. Hence, despite never reading the Fantastic Beasts book and missing the first movie, I enjoyed watching its sequel, “Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald” directed by David Yates.
Pure-blood (of pure magical descent) terrorist Gellert Grindelwald (Johnny Depp) is on a mission to take over the entire magical and non-magical world. To succeed, he must do away with his greatest stumbling block, professor Albus Dumbledore of Hogwarts school (Jude Law). He seeks the help of a young boy called Credence (Ezra Miller) to do so. Dumbedore, on the other hand, enlists the shy yet brave, master of magical creatures, Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne) to help him thwart Grindelwald.
The entire cast of the film. From L-R: Jude Law, Ezra Miller, Claudia Kim, Katherine Waterston, Eddie Redmayne, Dan Fogler, Johnny Depp, Alison Sudol, Callum Turner, Zoe Kravitz. Picture courtesy: http://www.eonline.com
The biggest flaw in the film is that it can’t be understood or enjoyed as a first time watch. Fortunately, I saw it with my brother, who had seen the first edition in the series, and explained major plotlines and backgrounds of characters, where the movie failed to.
The story, written by J. K. Rowling, is very interesting and keeps the viewer engaged. There’s not a dull moment, though there may be some confusing ones for first-time viewers. The film explores dark and serious themes, a far cry from magical adventures aimed at children.
The special effects are seamless and stunning. Most of the film is shot in Paris, and the beautiful city really comes to life. The cinematography, editing and background score are all top-notch.
The acting can’t be faulted in the least. Each actor does a fabulous job of essaying their individual roles. Eddie Redmayne is breathtaking in his simplicity. Johnny Depp and Jude Law are par excellence. Ezra Miller as a tormented young man, and Dan Fogler as the amusing muggle, do a good job. The women are at par with the men. Zoe Kravitz is broodingly beautiful, Alison Sudol and Katherine Waterston also leave a mark.
What is particularly endearing is the similarity in personalities between Newt Scamander and Harry Potter. The story goes back a couple of generations before Potter, but both characters display an unusual amount of resilience in the face of rejection and hardship. Their similarities ensure that people unfamiliar with this series form a bond with Scamander, similar to ones they have with Potter.
Some aspects are notably different from the books, such as Dumbledore and other teachers wearing human clothes instead of wizarding robes. Some important questions are left unanswered and some aspects unexplained, which could irk some die-hard fans!
Judging the film on its merits, it’s an engaging watch. If you’re unfamiliar with the first film, you may be a little lost.
I recommend the film to all fans of “Harry Potter” and the “Fantastic Beasts” series. Even if you’re unfamiliar with the story, you’ll enjoy it more than other films currently playing in theatres, like “Thugs of Hindostan” (review here) and “Baazaar” (review here). If you’re not interested in this kind of film, I recommend watching “Badhaai Ho” instead (review here).
Film Rating: 3.5/5