Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald

If only it were really about the eponymous crimes. JK Rowling’s extended wizarding world is back for the second in the new prequel franchise, but it hasn’t fully grown up yet, spending way too much time flashing back and re-establishing itself rather than getting on with what it sets itself out to do, which is punish the baddie for “his crimes in Europe.”

The production design and effects are impeccable and beautiful and worth watching on their own – the re-creation of Paris is just stunning, and Eddie Redmayne’s Newt (still too interior a characterisation to appeal widely – compare him to Harry Potter’s wide-eyed naivety) has a wonderfully labyrinthine terraced house in London. 

There’s so much, too much, to admire, even Johnny Depp’s Grindelwald and Jude Law’s young Dumbledore, but they all feel like they’re floating around in a sea of magical effects, not mixing with the real world, just as history is getting interesting. Surely that’s JK’s appeal, isn’t it, to provide an alternate universe that operates as a mirror to our own? Where were the wizards during the Holocaust? is a great question in this context, but this film is too enchanted with itself to answer.