Mon | Dec 17, 2018

Two hours gone to the wand

Published:Monday | November 19, 2018 | 12:00 AMDamian Levy/Gleaner Writer
From left, Academy Award nominee Jude Law, Dan Fogler, Katherine Waterson, Academy Award winner Eddie Redmayne, Alison Sudol and Academy Award nominee Johnny Depp in 'Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald'.

The wizarding world of Harry Potter is alive and well in 2018. Well, sort of. The newest film in the series, Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald, picks up where the previous film left off, showing us how wizards got on in the roaring '20s. Big bad wizard Grindelwald escapes his recent capture by the Ministry of Magic and seeks to plunge the world into an era of purity. Of course, that purity involves countless deaths and the enslavement of anyone without a wand, but, you can't make an omelette without breaking a few eggs.

What does any of this have to do with 'fantastic beasts'? Not a thing. Therein lies the biggest problem with the film. It continues to have an identity crisis that shows no signs of being resolved. It's either a film about Newt Scamader and his affinity for spectacular creatures, or it's a film about the dastardly deeds of the evil white-haired, multicolour-eyed, eugenics-obsessed madman. It tries to be both but irritatingly underwhelms on both counts.

Personally, I much prefer the cast of characters we were introduced to in the last film. Something about Newt's love for animals makes him a far more interesting character than the rest. There are a few instances where the film taps into his zoological expertise, and they're the only moments in the film with any, well, magic.

Then there's the other side of the film with Johnny Depp's Grindelwald. It's no secret that the actor's casting in the film was controversial because of allegations against him. Still, his performance leaves a lot to be desired. Why the powers that be decided he was necessary for this role is beyond me. Jude Law does a fine job as a young Albus Dumbledore and makes up for the fact that he's barely in the film.

Typically, at the end of a film, you get a sense of resolution. Perhaps a character arc or two reach their natural conclusion. The plot wraps up neatly or, at the very least, leaves you wanting more. At the end of Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindlewald, all I wanted was the two hours I'd spent on it back. Still, nothing in the film made it deserve the lowest rating possible, and diehard fans of the series should find some enjoyment in it. At least, someone should.

Rating: Catch It On Cable.