Release: 18th March 2019
Format: BR / DVD / DGTL
At the end of the first film, the powerful Dark wizard Gellert Grindelwald (Johnny Depp) was captured by MACUSA (Magical Congress of the United States of America), with the help of Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne). But, making good on his threat, Grindelwald escaped custody and has set about gathering followers, most unsuspecting of his true agenda: to raise pure-blood wizards up to rule over all non-magical beings. In an effort to thwart Grindelwald’s plans, Albus Dumbledore (Jude Law) enlists his former student Newt Scamander, who agrees to help, unaware of the dangers that lie ahead. Lines are drawn as love and loyalty are tested, even among the truest friends and family, in an increasingly divided wizarding world.
J. K. Rowling should probably be writing for TV. She seems to relish in drawing out the inanest detail to the point of intolerable cruelty. If you like your Walking Dead’s, where a single conversation might last 20 minutes and amount to nothing more than a cough, or an entire 45 minute episode will literally see one character open a door and make themselves a sandwich, then you’ll love what has been done here with the new ‘franchise’? of Fantastic Beasts
Opening with promise, we witness a rain soaked, pitch black jailbreak/car chase, that does its best to up the ante with the first film’s often teased but merely glimpsed villain; Grindlewald. But the plot swiftly grinds to a halt as Newt winces and mumbles his way through several scenes; whose sole purpose is to introduce other characters. Then a baby gets killed; because J.K. wants to wake us all up. Before we know it, a bunch of complicated and poorly edited scenes flyby, we witnessed a thinly veiled gay sex scene, and the film jolts to a finish. In short, not much happens. The big question is, however, will that matter? Probably not. Because let’s face it, at this point in time, as with shows like The Walking Dead, we are all too invested to just throw in the towel. Rowling has threatened a 5-film series with Fantastic Beasts, and it is likely that at this rate, we will not see any real plot development until the final act of film 4. But we will watch them all the same, because we are suckers.
The is David Yates’ sixth film in the Potterverse, and his aesthetic and style are now well established. Grindlewald feels like one of his most template endeavors, with little-to-no visual flair or significant pushes to develop this world. A bunch of scenes (most notably a sewer scene that leads to a street encounter) transition without any logic and prove that little care has been taken to hide the rough edges. Characters appear and disappear at random, and humour is at such an all time low, that an old man shuffling gets the biggest laugh. The biggest frustration is just that this whole experience feels so empty.
The Crimes of Grindlewald might be the most ‘meh’ entry in the Potterverse since Fantastic Beasts, but it still has moments to enjoy, a game cast, and production design to die for. The 4K version is outstanding, with its limited palette feeling deep and rich, while the soundtrack (unlike most HP blu-rays) is well balanced. It is easily the best way to see the film; if only the extended cut (which is a much better viewing experience) where presented in this format as well.
Film Grade: C-
A nice little mix of behind the scenes and EPK, there is nothing here to the depths of the Harry Potter discs, but this is instead more of a psychological journey in to the developing world Rowling is creating.
Special Features Grade: C+
The beasts might be fantastic, but the film not so much.