Our good friends, Roneel Rama and Laura Zellner, attended the New Zealand premiere of Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald on our behalf. Here’s their joint review of the film.
The Wizarding World… A magical world that we have been visiting since the year 2000. As we entered the cinema foyer, we were transported to another realm. A magical France in the late 1920s with a woman playing the accordion and some vintage costumes and set design.
The tone was set. However, we had to be reminded that villainy was looming ever closer as we had a very impressive look at the movie’s promotional image – Grindelwald’s back as he looked down upon Paris and the other characters.
The movie starts with a quick recap of the previous film. When we left them last, the American Ministry of Magic had captured our big bad and Newt Scamander had to go back to London, away from a quite heartbroken Tina.
The action takes place mere months after we last saw Newt and friends. It starts with Grindelwald in prison awaiting his transfer to the British Ministry of Magic where he is to face judgement for his crimes in Europe. We are left to wonder how this deranged mastermind will try to escape his enchanted restraints.
We are also quickly reunited with Newt and his fantastic beasts in his home menagerie. A more impressive sight that what we have been treated to so far with his Tardis-esque suitcase.
The movie storyline follows the same “Love will defeat the darkness” undertone that the Harry Potter franchise had previously set. Instead of being boring and repetitive, having Newt’s quite neutral perspective on the events is actually refreshing.
The movie has a good balance of action scenes and storytelling moments. Eddie Redmayne delivers another compelling performance whilst Johnny Depp has yet to showcase the full malice of Grindelwald.
In terms of special effects, the beasts are beautifully crafted and really come to life. We really enjoyed the effort spent in making sure that each and every one of them received their own introduction. It made them more dimensional and interesting, straying away from the good/bad dichotomy under which so many beasts fall. In addition to that, the magical world portrayed in this movie is excellent. It reminded us of the first time we saw Diagon Alley in Harry Potter. So many magical details crammed into one breath-taking scene after another. A real pleasure.
The movie was great. As a stand-alone movie it would have left more questions than answers and many viewers would have left the cinema quite frustrated. When put into perspective as part of a five-movie franchise, it leaves us craving more. There is a lot that still needs to be unravelled. It makes us want to re-watch all of the Wizarding World movies to re-engage with the magical realm and get a better idea of what is next to come.