European films

Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald film review – J.K. Rowling political action fantasy expands Potter-verse

  • Jude Law is a young Albus Dumbledore, Johnny Depp is Grindelwald, Eddie Redmayne is back as Newt Scamander in new Harry Potter prequel
  • Film packs in humour, romance, action and some sinister plotting with far-right overtones
PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 13 November, 2018, 7:03am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 13 November, 2018, 7:06am

4.5/5 stars

With no Star Wars movie on the horizon, this winter’s premiere blockbuster arrives in the shape of Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald. The second prequel to the Harry Potter series, inspired of course by J.K. Rowling’s magic-filled books, this thrilling adventure is liable to have fans leaping from their seats.

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This, after all, is the episode where we reunite with Hogwarts headmaster Albus Dumbledore, much younger than the white-haired sage played by Richard Harris and then Michael Gambon.

Here, Jude Law sprinkles just the right amount of stardust onto the part, as he contends with his one-time friend Gellert Grindelwald (Johnny Depp), the Dark Wizard last seen causing chaos in 2016’s Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them .

After escaping from his cell at the American Ministry of Magic, Grindelwald heads to Paris to lure the disturbed but powerful Credence (Ezra Miller) into his clutches, all part of a plan to rule over all non-magical beings.

To stop him, Dumbledore sends former pupil Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne), the gentle beast-master first introduced in the preceding movie. There are added complications with the arrival of Newt’s brother Theseus (Callum Turner) and his fiancée Leta Lestrange (Zoë Kravitz), for whom Newt had a thing back in Hogwarts.

Rowling, who penned the screenplay, further expands the “Potter-verse” family tree with a complex tale of siblings, surrogate or otherwise, and the ties that bind.

Confidently directed by series regular David Yates, now fully adept at bringing Rowling’s wonder alive, Crimes of Grindelwald emerges as one of the more adult films in the canon. There’s humour, romance and some giddy action scenes.

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But this is a film where the storm clouds gather in the final act, thanks in part to Depp’s bleached blonde Grindelwald, whose sinister plotting carries far-right overtones. Rowling has never been afraid to get political and so it goes here. This richly rewarding tale feels like a blockbuster for our troubled times.

Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald opens on November 15

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