Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald

 

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The tenth chapter in J.K. Rowling’s ‘Wizarding World’ franchise is the most incomprehensible, indigestible and tedious yet – a shameful waste of talent and money.

 

Fantastic Beats The Crimes of Grindelwald

The wizard of odd: Johnny Depp as Gellert Grindelwald
  

The year is 1927 and the extraordinarily evil Gellert Grindelwald escapes his confinement in New York and heads for Paris…

 

It’s not all J.K. Rowling’s fault. Yes, her plot is convoluted and overly congested, but the muddied storytelling is hardly helped by the appalling enunciation on show here. At one point, Eddie Redmayne’s fey magizoologist Newt Scamander says, “Everybody in Europe’s gone toothpaste.” It could be a veiled allusion to Brexit, but it’s more likely he said something else entirely, proof of Redmayne’s new persona as Newt Mumble-more. He is to Britain what Casey Affleck and Robert Downey Jr are to America. Not that anything really makes much sense as we, the audience, are spirited from one realm to the next with the flick of a wand. And so we see Newt emerge from a compact, battered suitcase, step through a door in Paris and emerge on the back of a dragon in a Scottish loch. Huh? When anything is possible, the possible loses its lustre. And while the special effects department works overtime to dazzle us with its mind-bending pyrotechnics – every frame is alive with visual mischief – the soundtrack works equally hard to undermine it. The result is a continuous, meaningless drone that blankets every scene in an aural monotony, soliciting unwanted mental fatigue. At another point – a welcome return to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, featuring Jude Law as a young Dumbledore – the music stops dead. I was so surprised by the sudden silence, I woke up with a jolt and almost spilled my coffee. Then, a minute later, the orchestral murmur started up again and the film plodded determinedly towards the next CGI spectacle.

 

It’s not all bad: Stuart Craig’s production design is phenomenal and, as Grindelwald, Johnny Depp displays considerable menace and largely wrests his consonants from the grip of the background music. GrootThere’s also a welcome supporting appearance by Groot, the loveable twig from the Guardian of the Galaxy films. With so much cross-fertilisation going on in movies today, I did, initially, believe I had slipped through a wormhole and into a different franchise. Alas, it turns out to be a Rowling creation called the Bowtruckel, a mere weed compared to the stick voiced by Vin Diesel. Still, you can’t have it all…

 

JAMES CAMERON-WILSON

 

Cast: Eddie Redmayne, Katherine Waterston, Dan Fogler, Alison Sudol, Ezra Miller, Zoë Kravitz, Callum Turner, Carmen Ejogo, Claudia Kim, William Nadylam, Kevin Guthrie, Jude Law, Johnny Depp, Derek Riddell, Joshua Shea, Thea Lamb, Poppy Corby-Tuech, Wolf Roth, Ólafur Darri Ólafsson, Jamie Campbell Bower, Toby Regbo, Brontis Jodorowsky, Hugh Quarshie.

 

Dir David Yates, Pro David Heyman, J.K. Rowling, Steve Kloves and Lionel Wigram, Screenplay J.K. Rowling, Ph Philippe Rousselot, Pro Des Stuart Craig, Ed Mark Day, Music James Newton Howard, Costumes Colleen Atwood.

 

Warner Bros. Pictures/Heyday Films-Warner Bros.

133 mins. UK/USA. 2018. Rel: 16 November 2018. Cert. 12A.