The Crimes of Grindelwald - the second chapter in JK Rowling's five-part story - welcomes us back to the Wizarding World of Newt Scamander and Co. Though his beasts may be fantastic, this cumbersome sequel/prequel threatens to obliviate the entire franchise. Grindelwald escapes captivity and plans to raise pure-blood wizards to rule over all non-magical beings. A much younger Albus Dumbledore enlists magizoologist Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne) to make a stand against Grindelwald.
Over-stuffed and half-baked - The Crimes of Grindelwald couldn't be any less spellbinding. J.K Rowling's need to service the more hard-core Potterheads takes priority over making a half-decent adventure for wider audiences. She crams in big third act reveals and easter eggs that are sloppy, awkward and occasionally eye roll worthy - unfortunately Rowling is clearly struggling to write straight for the silver screen. The film suffers from feeling completely and utterly aimless - full to the brim of impenetrable sub plots and characters - The Crimes of Grindelwald has too much going on. There is so much content that doesn't make sense, this outing is way more complicated than it needs to be despite the fact that it all feels so inconsequential anyway.
The year is 1927, on a stormy night the American ministry of magic is transferring Grindelwald to Europe by mystic sky-borne horse drawn carriage. Easily the best set piece in the entire feature the opening scene is dark, thrilling and instantly engaging - swooping dangerously across a dazzling New York skyline. Johnny Depp is just about so-so as antagonist Grindelwald, better than any of his recent roles but in his attempt to be less over-the-top he mumbles the majority of his dialogue and isn't particularly threatening. Moreover, Grindelwald doesn't commit enough crimes throughout this episode nor do anything particularly evil to warrant his name being in the title. I think Fantastic Flop: The Groans of Grindlebore would be a more fitting name.
Despite eleven new additions to the main cast very few make a lasting impression: Zoe Kravitz is wonderful as the compassionate though seriously disturbed Leta Lestrange but Jude Law is completely unconvincing as Dumbledore. Though Newt Scamander is a more original type of lead avoiding most standard hero conventions, in this second chapter Rowling emphasises him as an awkward but loveable introvert with regard for neither politics nor people. Rowling deepens Queenie's character too, Alison Sudol perfectly captures her seemingly bubbly though troubled lonely soul. However it becomes clear that Dan Fogler as Jacob Kowalski really is a muggle in a world full of wizards and whilst Katherine Waterson is great as Tina Goldstein she is still a significantly underdeveloped character.
The great and truly magical elements of this feature are in very short supply. There are a few brilliant set pieces that prompt some entertaining action, but that's the limit of where this film goes. The Crimes of Grindelwald is bogged down in a boring and completely aimless story that has no structure, it really feels like a "fill in the gaps" feature. JK Rowling's writing is genuinely vague here - with characters force feeding you exposition, twists that have no real punch and references that try to appeal to Potter fans over the heads of most of us. As always the music and visuals are excellent but the only magic spell The Crimes of Grindelwald with cast on you is disenchantment.
The Crimes of Grindelwald:
Pinch of info
Hi I’m James - a huge welcome to my film blog! I started this site just after my 14th birthday and have been bringing you my own take on the hottest box office arrivals and many art house triumphs ever since.