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Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald - Film Review

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by John Andrew (subscribe)
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Published November 13th 2018

J.K. Rowling has built up a very large worldwide following of fans, as author, screenwriter, philanthropist and tweeter for sanity.

This reviewer regards himself as an admirer and will be perpetually grateful for the way that the Harry Potter books created generations of children who learned to love reading and revel in a wonderful mythical world which asked and answered big questions.

Which makes this qualified review of The Crimes of Grindelwald difficult to write.

Many of the positives are still there.

Being very careful not to trigger a spoiler alert, a highlight of the movie is Johnny Depp's escaped villain Grindelwald, whose political demagoguery memorably and massively out-Trumps Trump. Redmayne's gentle Scamander, who has never met a monster he could not love, gives a compelling vision of goodness, as his battered suitcase reveals an astonishing range of bizarre creatures. Also, we get to meet a young Dumbeldore and learn the fascinating aspects of his backstory.

Visually the movie remains compelling. Special effects are extraordinary. The images of an early twentieth century magical London and Paris are (almost literally) spell-binding.

As Lea Greenbatt of Entertainment Weekly says "Nearly every moment is visually ravishing — from the weird, wondrous creatures and sumptuous costumes to the fog-banked spires and cobblestones of 1920s London and Paris, all strewn with the dazzling fairy dust of J.K. Rowling's singular imagination."

One of the great strengths of the earlier movies is that the characters were strongly established and we were engaged and cared about what happened to them.

But, as David Sims of The Atlantic says "The Crimes of Grindelwald is not short (it runs a healthy 134 minutes), and yet it feels like barely anything happens in it. The movie isn't lacking in characters, adding several newcomers to the already robust Fantastic Beasts ensemble, and yet nobody gets much to do…. In this movie, J K Rowling seems to be pouring a wealth of ideas and lore about her expansive universe into a mold that doesn't have the space for it."

So, is the movie one we should see?

This is the second of a projected five movies and I suspect that we need to see The Crimes of Grindelwald in order to appreciate the rest.

But, if you are a muggle not very well informed about Rowling's magical world, expect information overload, and to be more than a little confused and overwhelmed by a visual kaleidoscope of apparently disconnected happenings.
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Why? Visually astonishing
Where: cinemas across Australia
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