Reviewed By: Sanika Kende
The sequel to the 2016 film Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them is finally here. As an ardent Potterhead, I had been anticipating this film for quite some time and was absolutely thrilled to be able to go see it. The film starts off with Grindelwald, played by Johnny Depp, escaping prison, and then follows the havoc he wreaks after escaping, as well as his attempts to once again rise to power. After watching the movie, it’s safe to say that there’s a lot to praise.
From the very first scene, I was hooked by the larger-than-life visuals. In fact, throughout the film, the cinematography was incredibly impressive; each scene was an exquisite painting. Additionally, kudos to the special effect/VFX team; the scenery and magical creatures looked as realistic as ever and were definitely better than the previous film. One of the parts that I thoroughly enjoyed were the multiple flashback scenes that were seamlessly integrated into the movie and provided some much-needed insight into the characters. Furthermore, the scenes featuring Hogwarts, which were accompanied with the original score created by John Williams, was enough to fill fans like me with nostalgic delight. That being said, there were certain aspects of the film that, unfortunately, kept it from exceeding my high expectations.
While the inclusion of so many new characters was interesting, the multiple subplots were not. The film branched out in several directions, starting multiple plots involving different characters. Due to this, most of the storylines felt half-baked, as none of them got enough screen time to really flesh out the different situations. While the new characters were all quite interesting, I felt all the different storylines kept me from forming any sort of real connect with them.
Another aspect of this film that disappointed me were the costumes. The designs do stay true to the era, and some of the pieces worn by characters like Queenie and Leta were stunning. However, I wish the film had stayed true to the original Potter universe and incorporated more standard wizard robes into the costumes. I did not see the point of having the Muggles (non-magic folk) and wizards dressed exactly the same and would have liked to see distinctions in the costumes; a little color amidst all the dreary greys and navy blues wouldn’t have hurt either. Also, to my dismay, the iconic teal coat worn by Scamander in the first film was nowhere to be seen; in its place was a coat with the same design, but in a drab, blue-grey hue.
The climax scene delivered a punch as quite a few details were revealed, leaving the audience shocked. Even though the scenes were gripping and kept me on the edge of the seat, after it was over, I was left wanting more. The revelations left many loose threads and unanswered questions, particularly about the motives of characters such as Queenie. Even the massive plot twist at the end, when analyzed closely, didn’t seem to make entire sense. Hopefully, these plot holes are filled in the next installment.
Despite some of its shortcomings, I had no qualms when it came to the performances delivered by the cast. Eddie Redmayne was brilliant as the awkwardly adorable Newt Scamander. Alison Sudol and Katherine Waterston were excellent in their respective supporting roles. Dan Fogler once again provided the much-needed comic relief through his character Jacob Kowalski, while Ezra Miller’s Credence was convincingly dark and distressed. Zoë Kravitz’s Leta Lestrange was poised and quickly became one of my favorites on the screen. Callum Turner did a wonderful job essaying the role of the respected and over-achieving Theseus Scamander, who reminded me fondly of Percy Weasley. Claudia Kim played the character of Nagini with ease, and I’m excited to see this particular character develop throughout the series. Jude Law’s version of Dumbledore was a refreshing take on the character we always knew to have waist-length beard and half-moon spectacles. Even though his involvement in the project stirred up some controversy, Johnny Depp’s Grindelwald was riveting, and he played the conniving wizard with much gusto.
Overall, as a Harry Potter fan, I did actually enjoy the film. Even though the sheer number of storylines became overwhelming at times, the film had its moments. At the very least, it’s a one-time watch for anyone who’s enchanted by the world J.K Rowling has so craft-fully conjured.