Author J.K. Rowling and director David Yates (The Legend of Tarzan, Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince) have teamed up previously. Several times. But this is probably their least successful collaboration. Not to say that this is a bad film, but….it isn’t a good one. That despite the fact that it is a wonder to look at. The visuals are often as amazing as the world they are depicting. Even better than the first.
This is film number two of a reported five. The story is really just fleshing itself out here. For that reason I won’t be too tough on it. It it kinda like the middle chapters of a novel. Still, it is not as good as the first one.
To catch those out there who did not see the first (you can watch this without having seen the first with only a little catching up to do) this film series is a prequel to the Harry Potter films. Here a dark wizard has been causing chaos in the world. A world shared by magical creatures and humans. Grindelwald (Johnny Depp – Murder on the Orient Express – 2017, Into the Woods) has been imprisoned for his misdeeds. Because of his trickery he is able to escape however and MACUSA (Magical Congress of the United States of America) is back on the hunt for him.
Grindelwald sets about assembling his followers including former circus worker, Credence Barebone (Ezra Miller – The Perks of Being a Wallflower, We Need to Talk About Kevin). Most follow though they don’t really know what he is ultimately up to. He wants pure-blooded wizards to rule over all non-magical beings. Albus Dumbledore (Jude Law – The Talented Mr. Ripley, The Grand Budapest Hotel) enlists his former student Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne – The Theory of Everything, My Week with Marilyn) to help.
The problem is that it really has no story. Really just serves to give a little backstory and to set up the next films. New characters are introduced. The dialogue really adds not illumination. Doesn’t help things at all. I could not really describe the film to anyone. Even if pressed to do so. So many loose threads. So many seemingly unrelated occurences. So much head scratching. Subplots that go nowhere. What is happening with Queenie (Alison Sudol – Dan in Real Life, What to Expect When You’re Expecting) and Jacob (Dan Fogler – from television’s The Walking Dead)? Maybe things will tie together in the next film. Here’s to hoping so.
Actors try to do what they can. They all do decent jobs. Working hard to flesh out their characters and putting passion into their scenes. A diverse in all ways cast who are interesting to watch.
-Le Ministere des Affaires Magiques: The French Minstry