The team behind "Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald" throws in this rumbled change of more than two hours, the latest part of J.K. Rowling verse. As is often the case in a Rowling production, evil is on the rise, permeating both human and magical areas such as poison gas.
But mainly because Rowling builds worlds, what Grindelwald has is a lot of history. The movie is packed with stuff: titular creatures (though not nearly enough), attractive people, limping extras, eye-catching locations, tragic flashbacks, tearful confessions, and largely bloodless, spectacular violence. It is an embarrassment of wealth and it suffocates.
This is the second movie in what promises (threatens to!) extended franchise "Fantastic Beasts". (Rowling shot this series out of the "Harry Potter" cycle, so the sub-franchise might be more correct.) The focus is on Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne), a "magiologist" who studies, saves and nurtures magical creatures. Unlike Harry's story, Newt's story already starts with him. The new film takes up the mid-1920s in New York, the endpoint of "Fantastic Beasts and where to find them". With its cloche hats, Model T's, Art Deco and a jazz-age feel, it's a pretty design scene change from Potter World, one that's mostly a story delivery system.
[[[[Read our review of "Fantastic beasts and where to find them"]
Not much has happened since the last movie. Mostly, people and parts were moved in preparation for the next big storytelling step. Again Newt frolics, while unfaithful deeds unfold in separate storylines. One is dominated by Gellert Grindelwald (an absolutely unforgettable Johnny Depp), a wicked magician who looks like he's been in flour (and who has recently appeared in the more flattering form of Colin Farrell). Grindelwald consolidates his power and has big plans. These became more transparent when fascism had entered history. The threat of totalitarianism lends a dark meaning to all the acts of violence and ugly expressions like "pure blood".
Rowling is a literary magpie and a first-class synthesizer. Her inspirations for the Harry Potter books range from classical mythology to Jane Austen. Traces of the Bible, Shakespeare, Tolkien, and other Western-lit brackets are sprayed in this series and therefore also in this series. Although they are intentional, they are part of a cultural database that is as intelligent as it is appealing. (The influences are flatter, but do not overwhelm the readers and offer various interpretive portals throughout history.) Given some of these influences, it is not surprising that the series is touched by death. Given the history of the story, it is no surprise that it has turned into an apocalyptic war history.
A bleak, violent end – and the hint of a worldwide catastrophe – threatens the first scene of "The Crimes of Grindelwald". The film is staged by David Yates and written by Rowling Grindelwald and makes the bad mood. The bad times hurry along with the various bad guys who bring escalating violence. By the time Newt materializes with his magical suitcase, in which he often contains his roaring, usually rushing Menagerie (usually sometimes), the film already looks like a serial finale. It is so full of foreboding that even the supposed mood feels like washed out.
The darkness is a startling contrast to the first film, which was all about much narrative stage design, including all the funny, vicious introductions. Most of the characters are back, including Tina (Katherine Waterston), a type of law called the Auror, and Newt's saggy romantic slide. One of the disappointments of the Fantastic Beasts films was the casting, which has little of the wit and powerhouse talent of the Harry Potter series. Redmayne can be a sensitive presence, but if he's not well-steered, his fluttering and dismissive looks quickly become a provocative blow. If Newt has a depth, it seems unlikely that a bewildering, trembling Redmayne will touch her.
Another problem is that the content of Newts suitcase is always more interesting than he. Rowling repeatedly tries to make him and the mysterious credo (Ezra Miller) the center of the story. However, her attention returns almost wistfully to the funny, charming side players of the film, in particular Queenie (a delightful Alison Sudol) and Jacob (the equally appealing Dan Fogler). They do not share the pedigree of Newt or the ominous threat of Credence. they are side dishes. But they have the charming peculiarities and human weaknesses of Rowling's best creations, and they turn out to be the ones that matter most to you.
On the site, Rowling is a great storyteller who creates worlds so densely populated and tightly structured that you can easily recall them without ever having seen a single adaptation of their work. What occasionally unbalances her is the plot structure – the arrangement of all her attractive, swirling parts. Steve Kloves, who wrote all but one of the Harry Potter films, had the gift of filming Rowling's ever-expanding novels with all their detours and spicy details. However, here Rowling has surrendered to her maximalistic tendencies and stuffed the story so much that you spend way too much time trying to unravel who did what to whom, why.
His pedigree and behind-the-scenes talents make Grindelwald's crimes scattered with small, mostly decorative pleasures-the filigree filigree that calls out old worlds, the stray that reminds of past adventures. There is also the Zouwu, a charming monster with a feline face and a long body that swirls like a Chinese dragon around the Chinese New Year, putting everyone who grabs the screen to pieces. By the time Rowling has collected all her storylines and a drowsy Zoë Kravitz, as the lanky Leta Lestrange, leads her through another digression, the movie has detached you. This freezes as the story moves temptingly to Hogwarts, where Dumbledore awaits fond memories and the promise of better stories.