MUGGLED Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes Of Grindelwald
Flashbacks & sub-plots make the second
IT’S action-packed, pacy and boasts some truly magical special effects.
But you may feel more bewildered than enchanted by this over-stuffed second Harry Potter prequel.
JK Rowling zaps us with flashbacks, flash forwards and subplots within sub-plots.
And she makes so many nods to her previous stories, I wouldn’t be surprised if she finished her script in a neck brace.
But if you think of this 1920s-set fantasy as The X-Men with wizards, the fog should begin to clear.
Johnny Depp’s chilling Gellert Grindelwald is clearly a peroxide Magneto.
He wants the wizards to step out of the shadows and take their rightful place as the rulers of the non-magical world.
Jude Law’s Albus Dumbledore, below right, is a slightly hairier Professor X who wants the spell-casters to live in harmony with the non-magical Muggles.
This second instalment in a proposed five-movie series is mostly about dividing the magical world into these two factions.
In the middle is Eddie Redmayne’s bumbling Newt Scamander.
As his loyalties lie with the magical creatures living in his Tardis-like suitcase, he is deemed incorruptible by the possibly corrupt Ministry of Magic.
After Newt turns down a chance to work with his civil servant brother Theseus (Callum Turner), Dumbledore hands him a mission.
He wants him to track down Credence Barebone (Ezra Miller), an angry young magic man who turns into a cloud of black smoke whenever he gets miffed.
Grindelwald is also after Credence. With him serving as his apprentice, the evil wizard will somehow be able to take over the world.
Now I don’t have a crystal ball but Credence looks a bad nose-job away from Voldemort…
Into this familiar framework, Rowling and director David Yates pour a dizzying array of soapy sub-plots.
There’s a love triangle involving Theseus, Newt and their former Hogwarts classmate Leta Lestrange (Zoë Kravitz).
Leta, who is engaged to Theseus but clearly fancies Newt, also has a dark family mystery to investigate involving Credence and a French-African wizard called Yusuf Kama (William Nadylam).
There’s also some will-theyor-won’t-they business with Newt and Tina Goldstein (Katherine Waterston), who is now employed by the Ministry of Magic as an Auror – a sort of magical federal agent.
Leta knows fancies Newt but thinks he also fancies Leta. Really he just fancies her but is too busy bumbling to do anything about it. Meanwhile, New York witch Queenie (Alison Sudol) wants to marry her Muggle boyfriend Jacob (Dan Fogler). Sadly, the Ministry doesn’t fancy a mixedmagic marriage. Potter nuts will wonder if there’s some fancying going on with Dumbledore and Grindelwald. “We were closer than brothers,” admits Dumbledore while clutching a necklace – a subtle but cheeky reference to Rowling’s revelation he is gay.
Thankfully, director David Yates knows how to keep things moving. The Harry Potter veteran begins with a thrilling prison break in New York before whisking us to London and then Paris.
There he delivers chases, wandfights and a trip to a freak show where Claudia Kim’s shapeshifter Nagini is undergoing a reptilian transformation which should set bells ringing among Potterheads.