David Yates returns to Fantastic Beasts (and the “Wizarding World”) with the sequel to 2016’s opening entry to the new series. Continuing the story of Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne) as he tries to protect and study the beasts while being dragged into the struggle between good and evil as a result of the threat posed by Grindelwald (Jonny Depp) and his quest to overthrow the non-magics.
I quite liked the first film although it lacked the focus and charm of the Harry Potter films. The loss of the perspective of the movie from a child’s view was a problem. I also thought the beasts were not so fantastic! This film has a similar problem and a new one. As JK Rowling attempts to expand the story for future instalments of this new franchise, we are introduced to an avalanche of new characters and plot threads. Even a hardcore Potter fan will struggle to keep up with. I have always enjoyed experiencing the world of Harry Potter rather than the actual story but this was just too much. On the plus side, the performances from Redmayne (even better this time), Jude Law (excellent as a younger Dumbledore) and Depp (surprisingly restrained) are spot on. Also, the film is absolutely stunning to look at. I also thought the beasts were better this time. The female characters are unfortunately rather sidelined.
Overall the brilliant world-building, effects and superb soundtrack (James Newton Howard) kept my interest to the end. I did leave the cinema not having a clue what was going on though. This might be improved on a second viewing. The upcoming sequels will hopefully tie the loose ends together and achieve a more engaging progression of the story and characters.
Rating – 7/10
Should you go and see it – Yes, if you are a Potter fan and on a big screen. For the rest of us, it depends on how much you enjoy the action sequences and visuals. Its a decent blockbuster but given its hereditary, I wanted more emotional engagement.