Fewer things in life have perhaps been as inaccurately named as Warner Bros’ latest money-minting machine, Fantastic Beasts and The Crimes Of Grindelwald. For in a film based on the adventures of Newt Scamander, the wizarding community’s most prolific magizoologist (one who studies magical creatures), there’s painfully little of the aforementioned beasts.
A sole Niffler, the adorable platypus-like pickpocket of the animal community, is the only one who gets more than a few stray seconds of screentime in a film that runs for over two hours. A true crime, this.
But then, of crime, if not of beasts, there’s plenty.
Even if you leave aside the makers’ championing of Johnny Depp as Grindelwald (and then utterly failing to justify his peroxide blond presence in it); or the atrocious last-minute cultural representation by introducing Nagini as an Asian maledictus (shape-shifter cursed to remain in animal form as the time passes), or how despite the hype, Dumbledore and Grindelwald’s relationship isn’t discussed — there’s so much here that will leave you infuriated.
The story begins where 2016’s Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them ended. The distinctly Nazi-ish Grindelwald is in captivity in America, and while in the process of being transferred to Europe, he escapes in a manner that’s silly and riddled with loopholes. Just like the trailer promised, within mere moments, Grindelwald’s on the loose and gathering supporters, and the only one who can stop him is Dumbledore, but he (for reasons you’ll learn later), refuses to go after him. In his stead, he decides to send an animal-crazy magizoologist to ‘protect’ Credence (the Obscurial) from the world’s most powerful dark wizard B.V. (Before Voldemort).
Logic’s spread so thin, a disgruntled curse from even a muggle could splinter it into smithereens.
Mixed in this dramatic chain-of-events in which Newt and Credence find themselves, are Tina and Queenie Goldstein and muggle (no-maj) baker Jacob Kowalski — none of whom add even an iota of sense or fun to the film like they did in Fantastic Beasts 1, in case you were wondering.
Our introduction to Leta Lestrange, Newt’s childhood love and his brother’s current fiancée, is marred by the fact that though she’s integral to the plot, she ends up feeling more like a footnote. And of Nagini, there isn’t much to say except that the representation controversy that hit her pre-release, is the only thing of consequence to have happened to her character. Out of nowhere, Nicolas Flamel makes an appearance too, but in so irreverent a manner so as to make you wonder if JK Rowling indeed wrote the screenplay for this one.
Eddie Redmayne as babbling Newt Scamander, the magizoologist, is a match made in heaven, but for the love of Merlin’s beard, how about we don’t ask him to play a hero again?!
Making a case for why one must choose villains with utmost care, there’s Depp, looking visibly bored and bewildered by his presence in the film. So frozen are his facial muscles, that often the only bits ‘acting’ in the frame, are his oddly-matched contact lenses.
Jude Law as Dumbledore is gorgeous, but totally unbelievable as a wizard all dark wizards fear. Nay. Law plays mostly himself, smiling coyly as he looks down and sneakily looks back up to see if you’re paying attention, at all times aware of where the light catches him best.
In a movie that need not have been made, the biggest regret, however, is that the nicest thing one can say about Ezra Miller as Credence and Zoe Kravitz as Leta, is that their cheekbones are the only high points of this film.