The Jakarta Post
The second of five of J.K. Rowling's all new adventures in the wizarding world, Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald, is undoubtedly among the most anticipated movies this year. Although sequels often disappoint, this one offers enough punch with magic and mystery to make fans impatiently wait for the next installment.
As previously revealed in the trailers, dark wizard Gellert Grindelwald (Johnny Depp) has managed to escape custody after being captured in the first movie by the Magical Congress of the United States of America (MACUSA) with the help of Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne). He is then able to freely gather followers in a bid to make pure-blood wizards the rulers of all non-magical beings. In the divided wizarding world of the mid-1920s that forces people to pick sides, Albus Dumbledore (Jude Law) requests his former student Newt to help him thwart Grindelwald's plans.
Co-produced and written by Rowling herself, one can expect this sequel to offer juicy mysteries and layered story lines, as the author masterfully maintains the audience's curiosity throughout the movie's twists and turns up until the very last scene. However, some may find the story line too layered, as more characters are involved in this film.
“Within the Fantastic Beasts franchise, I am telling a story that is only hinted at in the Harry Potter books — the rise of Grindelwald, who profoundly threatened both the wizarding and non-wizarding worlds, and his antagonist, Dumbledore, who, of course, is a key figure in the Potter stories," Rowling said in a statement regarding the film.
"Grindelwald is first mentioned in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, so he was there from the beginning, though he was more of a mysterious background character. You know he must have been important to figure so prominently in Dumbledore’s own history, but it is only when you reach the end of the Potter series that you find out just how important he was […] and you might also intuit that there must be much more to tell. I think this was the story I was most interested in revisiting because it’s so crucial to understanding Dumbledore, who is my favorite character."
The film also reunited director David Yates; producers David Heyman, Steve Kloves and Lionel Wigram, production designer Stuart Craig, costume designer Colleen Atwood, visual effects supervisors Tim Burke and Christian Manz and music composer James Newton Howard.
As the story is evolving, many of the previous main characters return in the sequel. Oscar-winner Redmayne, as always, successfully portrays the smart and kind-hearted, yet quiet and innocent magizoologist Newt who, after leaving New York for London, has completed his best-selling book, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. Katherine Waterston as Tina Goldstein, who is now an Auror, Alison Sudol and Dan Fogler as Queenie Goldstein and the no-maj Jacob Kowalski, respectively, who are in a forbidden relationship according to American wizarding world laws, and Ezra Miller as Credence Barebone who has been revealed as an Obscurial (a born wizard whose powers were suppressed to the point of becoming an Obscurus, a parasitical force deadly to its host, usually at a very young age), also return with solid performances.
Despite a controversy over the casting of Johnny Depp, who is alleged to have abused his partner, as Grindelwald, Depp presents a very convincing performance as the sophisticated villain who, unlike Voldemort, chooses to win people's hearts and minds over to his side instead of annihilating them.
However, the most anticipated character is of course Jude Law as the powerful and witty Dumbledore who immediately wins the audience members' hearts in the very first scene in which he appears.
“This is the Dumbledore who is not yet the great headmaster at Hogwarts. He is closer to the formative and more traumatic experiences in his life that perhaps color him. What was especially interesting for me — and for us as a team — was to try and layer in foundation points that keep him closely related to the Dumbledore we know, but with room to grow and learn and to make mistakes. And the stories we’re telling will show the evolution of the character," described Law.
Another new character who has also been discussed among fans, especially in Indonesia, is Claudia Kim as Nagini, a Maledictus, or carrier of a blood curse that is destined to ultimately transform her permanently into a beast, whose transformative powers are being exploited by the wizarding world Circus Arcanus. She befriends Credence who is a menial worker at the circus and both later escape together as Credence is on a mission to search for his identity. To avoid spoilers, let's just say that Kim's Nagini character offers a very interesting addition to the Fantastic Beasts universe.
All in all, although not everything is perfect, this second installment of Fantastic Beasts is still fun to watch with family and friends. Hence, as with all Rowling's magical works, just enjoy the thrilling ride and let your imagination run free — which won't be hard to do thanks to Newt's entertainingly fantastic beasts and creatures.
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