Sunday, November 18, 2018

Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald

Movie Name: Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald
Year of Release: 2018
Director: David Yates
Stars: Eddie Redmayne, Johnny Depp, Jude Law, Katherine Waterston, Ezra Miller, Alison Sudol, Callum Turner, Dan Fogler, William Nadylam, Zoe Kravitz, Victoria Yeates, Wolf Roth, Kevin Guthrie, Poppy Corby-Tuech, David Sakurai, Derek Riddell, Claudia Kim, Olivia Popica, Jamie Campbell Bower
Genre: Drama, Music
Score out of ten (whole numbers only): 4
View Trailer

Synopsis & Review:
Director David Yates and Writer/Producer J.K. Rowling are back with another tome in the series that they have started two years ago. Following the occurrences of the first film, we first encounter Grindelwald arrested, and about to be transported elsewhere. He manages to flee, and sets his sights on finding Credence, in the hopes he can fight his nemesis, Dumbledore. Dumbledore, in the hopes of thwarting his plans, enlists the assistance of Newt Scamander, who is still under international travel ban, due to the problems that occurred in NY. He, alongside Jacob, manage to escape under the radar to Paris, where they meet Tina, also on the trail of Credence. Their search leads them to an almost fatal confrontation with Grindelwald.
What has always made the Harry Potter universe so rich, was the fact that it was peppered with so many distinct characters, but ultimately that it was guided by the narrative surrounding the young hero, who had to vanquish his foe in order to survive. "Fantastic Beasts" is at this point suffering multiple malaises: on one hand the central figure, Newt Scamander, is a charming yet lackluster central figure (something that the overacting from Eddie Redmayne doesn't really help, with a series of ticks that are more distracting than exactly endearing). Another serious issue is the lack of balance in terms of narrative and style - the Harry Potter films managed to keep, to a certain extent, the visual effects bonanza at bay, to a certain extent. The Fantastic Beasts series is starting to look and feel completely artificial, which in itself, could be interesting if the film was a futuristic tale, but when trying to capture Paris in 1927, it looks mostly hollow and devoid of character (much like the characters that inhabit it). Finally, the characters that are being portrayed, feel wafer thin, more so than in the first film, with some having literally nothing to do (in this case, Dan Fogler's Jacob is completely lost in this sequel). The assembled and very talented cast doesn't have much to do - aside from the talented Johnny Depp who imbues some menace and panache to the events, everyone else seems a bit lost (and even baffled by the events taking place). At this point, this series would really benefit from a different point of view - much like what Alfonso Cuaron did with "Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban", a talented film maker that can shake this established formula. If anything, to give this series the uniqueness that marries the universe that is trying to capture, with the magic at its core.