The Reel Review
JK Rowling’s second installment in her Wizarding World, pre-Harry Potter spinoff franchise has wizard/magical critter wrangler Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne) working with a younger Albus Dumbledore (Jude Law) to thwart Gellert Grindelwald (Johnny Depp) in his efforts to start a rebellion by the pure-blood wizards over all Muggles (those of us lacking magic powers). The film truly has a fantastic amount of impressive CGI visual effects, charming creatures, and excellent performances by Redmayne, Depp and Zoë Kravitz (as Newt’s mysterious former Hogwarts classmate), but by its second half, even this visual cacophony cannot divert attention from the observation that Rowling’s bloated screenplay is so fantastically complicated that its frenetic race to each scene (with some just not making sense) devolves by its final act, into a rapid-fire laundry list recitation of previously-undisclosed elements of the story. As a result, hardcore Potter fans will feel unsatisfied, and casual fans will feel utterly confused. Rowling clearly loves her imaginary characters – she needs to find a better way to make moviegoers love them too.
• The film was shot almost entirely at Leavesden’s Warner Studios (located in western Hertfordshire County, about 30 kilometers from London) with Hogwarts exteriors, shot in the ancestral Lacock Abbey in Wiltshire, England.
• This is JK Rowling’s second film as a screenwriter – the first being Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. Other writers adapted her world-renowned Harry Potter anthology to the big screen.
• In addition to these two Fantastic Beasts films, David Yates also directed the final four Harry Potter films.