J.K. Rowling makes a rare misstep with The Crimes of Grindelwald

photo credit: Christian Onions

The Crimes of Grindelwald stuns with its visual effects and star studded cast, but misses the mark with the storytelling.

The second movie in the Fantastic Beasts franchise hit cinemas on Friday, directed by David Yates, who also directed many of the Harry Potter films, and screenplay written by J.K. Rowling.

Grindelwald, played by Johnny Depp, escapes imprisonment and wreaks havoc in a crime spree that spreads across London and Paris on a mission to ensure all pure-blood wizards rule over the non-magical world. Eddie Redmayne’s Newt Scamander and his friends go up against Grindelwald in a mission set upon him by Dumbledore.

Together, whilst they have created such magic in the past, Rowling and Yates have presented the most disappointing film in the wizarding world we have seen yet, which is at times relentlessly boring.

Too many characters and sub-plots make it very difficult to follow. Consequently, it’s even harder to form any kind of emotional investment in the story or the characters.

Despite the little screen time they have, the cast are mostly on great form here. Redmayne carries the film as naive and charming Newt, forming love triangles and unintentionally hilarious moments along the way.

Interestingly, Ezra Miller is particularly short-changed on screen time despite most of the film revolving around his character, although he works wonders with what he is given. The constant switch between vulnerability and rage is mesmerising to watch, and the unpredictability of Credence adds much needed excitement.

Johnny Depp’s Grindelwald is surprisingly one of the most lacklustre things about the film. With the look, back story and mystique of a perfect villain, he just doesn’t meet the high expectations of a J.K. Rowling story.

Not only does he lack the same malice as that of Ralph Fiennes’ Voldrmort, it is unconvincing that so many people would fear this man who despite the title of the film, does not actually commit that many crimes. Certainly not in comparison to the horror of what Voldemort has created within the franchise.

Easily the most impressive scene in the film is the opening sequence, as we see Grindelwald escape from imprisonment and set out on his ‘crime spree’. This is the most impressive action scene of the film, with stunning visuals, and Depp’s performance gives good promise of what seemingly turned out to be a weak character throughout the film.

The film is visually beautiful and the score by James Newton Howard is euphoric, the composer of the first film in the magical franchise, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. As with all of the films in the wizarding world, The Crimes of Grindelwald owes much of its magic to an extraordinary soundtrack.

With its many flaws, this film still manages to transform you back to J.K. Rowling’s magical universe, as if you had never left.

Words: Christian Onions | Subbing: Tabitha Durrant

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