FANTASTIC BEASTS: THE CRIMES OF GRINDELWALD – A Review by Gadi Elkon

Part 2 of 5 epic Harry Potter prequels is all about the escape of Grindelwald and the slew of unique connections that entangle our magical friends.  Here is my full review of the film.

  Director David Yates taking over the Harry Potter universe with "The Order of the Phoenix" will seem so fitting when you all get to see this new movie.  Fantastic Beasts is a way in which J.K. Rowling and her team can totally fill in a lot of the informational holes in the HP series to give us a fully realized timeline.  The connection points have so finally been hidden and are now starting to meticulously be unraveled with each new film in the FB series.  The accomplishment of trying to give us another multi-part look into Rowling's mind needs a real sense of cohesion.  Yates being the guiding light and now showcasing that he'll have his regular team mostly backing him up has made this second film shine brightly.

Oscar-winning Cinematographer Philippe Rousselot's has given us a much more haunting and adult feel than the HP world origins.  The HP world began innocently with the Chris Columbus days and it was with the introduction of Alfonso Cuaron the magic became slightly darker.  Voldermort's full presence became pivotal and the ability for our young students to not only become hurt but die became a reality.  Mike Newell dived in after Cuaron mirroring the smokey darkness until Yates finally connected the full dots of the HP world.  Now with Rousselot on board Yates seems to have tried to make things even more adult and dire.  This of course done with wonderful nods to the books that keep the youthful nature of Rowling wanting to give her children a world to escape into.  We still in essence have humans and wizards living in an unknowing unison.  That is where Grindelwald comes into play.  Among the darkest elements of the evil Voldermort is now Grindelwald who is the embodiment of diabolical leader.  But real fear lies in the confused world of Ezra Miller's incredible performance as Credence Barebone.  Rousselot's cinematography paints our heroes in a unique light and our Grindelwald sided folks in a different shade to create a perfect yin yang effect throughout these first two films.

The other returning Yates team members all bring about the full beauty and scope of the film.  From 3 Time Oscar-winner Stuart Craig we have our massive sets and the new addition of the Paris of 1920s is miraculous.  4 time Oscar-winning costumer designer Colleen Atwood once again has our FB heroes looking sharp and unique.  Getting Jude Law in a finally tailored suit with matching hat and pocket watch is such a fun departure from the gown days of older Dumbeldore.  Speaking of Law his performance is the most pivotal of any character we will see in the FB universe next to Newt's likeability.  If Jude didn't bring his A game the entire series may lack the real punch needed to be bigger and more profound than HP.  Luckily you can be made aware that he is absolutely perfect in the role.  I may have my issues with Johnny Depp but the one thing Yates and his team have done is give us a flawless cast.  It's sad that Colin Farrell couldn't have just dyed his hair and carried on his amazing performance from the first FB.  Some other standout performances are Zoe Kravitz as the misunderstood Leta Lastrange & newbie Callum Turner as the elder Scamander Theseus. 

Literally the only issue in the second film is Depp who seems out of place not only in his white out look but his demeanor is to off putting.  But there are so many twists and turns to who is who and how they are all connected you find yourself grateful Grindelwald is held in the background throughout.  Mark Day's editing is in large part the biggest success with this series.  We need to connect with our Heroes and we slowly are doing wonderful at that.  But we also need to connect to the world of Harry Potter the closer we get to that time leap.  Each film has to unravel something new but connected to something old in the J.K. Rowling lexicon.  I won't spoil to many of these connections but a throw back to avid filmgoers and readers is Nicolas Flamel being a pivotal element to this film.  Claudia Kim tremendous portrayal as the human-like Nagini may hold one of the most massive reveals in Harry Potter lore.  There are some really intelligent ideas about who she is and long before she becomes just a horcrux of V.  The last is a nod back to Yates "Order of the Phoenix" days.  The emblem and story of the Phoenix unearths the most important reveal in the film that will hold strong reverence through the next three movies.

The last element of a successful FB experience is the power and hold of 8 time Oscar-nominee James Newton Howard's score to weave everything together.  You are swooped up into the universe and never allowed to fall back to earth until the credits roll, which is quite a special connection back to the majestic nature of Harry Potter.

Oh and Newt gets to most importantly outwit some really fascinating creatures throughout.  His love ot nature and all the beings in nature is the real standout important element of the series.  If anything hopefully will never get lost is Newt's ability to love these creatures with all his heart.  The love stories, the crazy connections, the wild wizardly manors, the magical spells and the haunting evil world that will engulf us cannot outshine Newt's core love of all the animals and creatures of his world.

Finally all that is left to say is when will we see the return of DOBBY?

Don't miss FANTASTIC BEASTS: THE CRIMES OF GRINDELWALD.   

Directed by David Yates
Written By J.K. Rowling
Rated PG-13
Selig Rating A- (Johnny Depp casting is a negative the only one!)
Running Time 2hr 14min
Adventure / Family / Fantasy
Wide Release November 16th
Starring: Eddie Redmayne, Katherine Waterston, Dan Fogler, Johnny Depp, Jude Law, Ezra Miller,  Zoe Kravitz, Callum Turner and Claudia Kim.
 
 
The Selig Rating Scale:
 
A – Excellent movie, well worth the price.
B – Good movie
C – OK movie
D – No need to rush. Save it for a rainy day.
F – Good that I saw it on the big screen but wish I hadn't paid for it.