‘Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes Of Grindelwald’

Harry Potter Fan Fiction In Movie Form, Starring Johnny Depp

Self-select before you trek to Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald. Potterheads will flip for the latest Jazz Age prequel to J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter septology. But muggles beware (and if you don’t know what a muggle is, then point proven.) Newcomers to the Wizarding World should stay far, far away from film #10 in the phenomenally successful fantasy franchise. Those who don’t will risk complete confusion.

Casual viewers with a rosy but fading recollection of the Boy Who Lived and his sprawling, detailed universe will prick up at the familiar details. A boggart! Polyjuice potion! Aurors! A Nagini origin subplot! There’s a visit to Hogwarts, complete with a scolding but comely professor McGonagall. And a cameo from 600-year-old Nicolas Flamel, whose legendary Sorcerer’s Stone makes for a cute blink-and-you’ll-miss-it Easter Egg.

The ostensible star of this film series is geeky Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne), a magizoologist whose mild-mannered and slightly on-the-spectrum personality belies an intrepid moral compass. But let’s face it, people are really coming to see Jude Law as a hunky younger Albus Dumbledore and Johnny Depp as his dashing arch-nemesis Gellert Grindelwald.


FANTASTIC BEASTS: THE CRIMES OF GRINDELWALD ★★★ (3/5 stars)
Directed by: David Yates
Written by: J.K. Rowling
Starring: Eddie Redmayne, Johnny Depp, Jude Law, Katharine Waterston, Dan Fogler, Alison Sudol, Ezra Miller
Running time: 134 min.


The two were once best friends who swore a blood oath not to hurt each other. But now Grindelwald has escaped from a New York prison and runs amok in Europe spreading his noxious pro-magic pureblood ideology. He’s thirsty to enslave the non-magical world, so naturally Dumbledore enlists geeky magizoologist Scamander to help him fight. Contrived? Of course!

But whatever. I have a feeling that Scamander is the Frodo Baggins of what’s shaping up to be a Lord of the Rings battle royale between the forces of good and evil circa 1927. Obsessive fans who deep-dive into Rowling’s Pottermore website will recognize the stirrings of what will become the Global Wizarding War, a magical conflagration that apparently runs parallel to World War II.

Despite all the googly-eyed creatures of the land, air, and sea, this handsome production does strive towards genuine human drama under all the digital confetti. There are star-crossed lovers and fraternal struggles, plus a Dickensian orphan with a dark past and even darker powers.

But most of all, there’s a looney-tunes bankrupt billionaire playing the title character. The fiftysomething movie star has gone “full Depp” by growling in an Olivier accent and sporting a peroxide shock of Troll hair, a right oculus with a milky, blood-ringed iris, double-breasted trench coat, popped collar and white silk scarf. Dude literally vapes from a hookah-skull and spews out hallucinations of continental devastation in a stone amphitheater under the Père Lachaise Cemetery. And then he transforms into a dragon made of blue flame and flies away. Merlin’s beard!

I was once a great beauty

Stephen Garrett

Stephen Garrett is the former film editor of 'Time Out New York’ and has written about the movie industry for more than 20 years. He is also the founder of Jump Cut, a marketing company that creates trailers and posters for independent, foreign-language, and documentary films.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *