‘Fantastic’ sequel keeps the magic going
When J.K. Rowling lifts the hidden-in-plain-sight entries into a co-existing world of magic, the Harry Potter author/creator observes old school storytelling standards – she develops a family of reoccurring strongly resonating characters to woo our emotions.
“Walls blend to worlds, places, and creatures… it’s never too late to free [your imagination].”
“Crimes of Grindelwald” directed by Potter series vet David Yates, unleashes intensity quickly as the magical Congress of the United States of America prepares to send dark, murderous Gellert Grindelwald (Johnny Depp) back to Europe on a magic sleigh, from which the villain escapes.
Set in 1927, “Crimes” further establishes the friction of a truce between those gifted with magical powers and muggles – aka – “real people”. Grindelwald spends most of the film recruiting followers who favor aggressive action against the muggle world. This film sets the foundation for him to reveal (what historians know) where the muggle world will go unless there’s intention.
Yates has the “Fantastic Beasts” sequel basking in a polished dark toned dimension which has numerous hidden facets, including an infinity of colorful perky creatures ranging from a delicate green daddy long legs-esque insect to a giant puffing Chinese dragon. Ordinary items found on streets double for passageways to the magic kingdom.
Relationships and networking more persuade Potter-heads to keep their eyes on the screen. One on-going carry over heart break – the romance of Queenie Goldstein (Alison Sudol) and Jacob Kowalski (Dan Fogler) – complicated by the boundary that romance and marriage is prohibited between muggles and those who carry wands. It’s complicated.
Kowalski follows Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne), the man who regulates magical creatures, to Europe. Newt’s falling for her sis, Tina, and muggle Jacob requires a person of magic to quest the elusive Queenie.
The first “Beasts” only alluded to Potter and Hogwarts. The sequel has scenes at the school, both students, Prof. Dumbledore (Judd Law) last seen in Deathly Hallows Part 1, and a well placed flashback at a desk. The so-called freak circus foreshadows impending tragedy.
Viewers may be slightly disenchanted with the minimal magical one on one bouts; however, Grindelwald’s an attentive foundation for precursors to come. Audiences will be saddened and wailing for more when the fade to credits occurs.
Johnny Depp straddles a painted Joker and a luring Satan. Sudol as Queenie delivers wonderful vacillating emotions, despite minimal screen time. Law crafts commanding intensity. Redmayne retains his geeky semi-confidence and streaks of kindness and intellect dealing with the fantastic beasts, which turn up when the script convolutes.
Tony Rutherford is a film reviewer for HuntingtonNews.net and a member of the Huntington Regional Film Commission.