Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald
Latest J.K. Rowling Romp Revolves around Familiar Clash of Good vs. Evil

  Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald is the second in a series of five Harry Potter prequels being written and produced by author J.K. Rowling. The movie was directed by David Yates who made the original Fantastic Beasts as well as Harry Potters 5 through 8.

  Set in 1927, the film unfolds six months after the first, which ended with the apprehension and imprisonment in New York City of the evil Gellert Grindelwald (Johnny Depp). However, while being transported across the proverbial pond to Europe, the dark wizard escapes his captors with the help of his minions.

  Next thing you know, he’s hatching a diabolical plot to establish a new world order by breeding a race of pure-blood witches and wizards to rule over all “muggles,” a.k.a. ordinary people. Ultimately, the hope for saving humanity will rest on the shoulders of the picture’s protagonist, Newt Salamander (Eddie Redmayne). 

  This good wizard is a “magizooligist,” meaning he has an army of supernatural animals at his disposal. Trouble is, Newt has been grounded by the British Ministry of Magic since inadvertently making such an embarrassing mess in the Big Apple during FB1.

  Following a successful appeal of the harsh sentence, the unassuming hero’s wand and travel rights are restored, setting in motion a series of events leading to an inevitable showdown with the megalomaniacal Grindelwald. Still, the deliberately-paced tale takes a number of nostalgic detours prior to the monumental clash of good vs. evil, thanks to Newt’s fervent desire to remain neutral.

  So, we’re first treated to a string of extraneous subplots, like distracting sidebars revolving around reunions with Professor Dumbledore (Jude Law) and Newt’s old flame, Leta Lestrange (Zoe Kravitz). Diehard fans of the franchise are apt to appreciate such time-filling folderol while average audience members might grow increasingly impatient for the visually-captivating action sequences.

  Overall, FB2 proves to be an entertaining episode ending on an engaging enough note to keep you curious about the next offering in J.K. Rowling’s incomparable Wizarding World series.

Very Good (3 stars)
Rated PG-13 for action
Running time: 134 minutes
Production Studios: Heyday Films / Warner Brothers Pictures
Studio: Warner Brothers Pictures

 

OPENING THIS WEEK
Kam’s Kapsules
Weekly Previews That Make Choosing a Film Fun
For movies opening Thanksgiving 2018

 

WIDE RELEASES

Creed II (PG-13 for violence, profanity and sensuality) Michael B. Jordan reprises the title role in this revenge-fueled sequel which finds the contender being trained by Rocky Balboa (Sly Stallone) for a grudge match with the son (Florian Munteanu) of the boxer (Dolph Lundgren) who killed his father (Carl Weathers) in the ring 33 years ago. With Tessa Thompson, Phylicia Rashad, Wood Harris and Russell Hornsby.

The Front Runner (R for profanity and sexual references) Political biopic revisiting the 1988 presidential campaign of Democrat Gary Hart (Hugh Jackman) who dropped out of the race after being caught having an extramarital affair with former Miss South Carolina, Donna Rice (Sara Paxton). With Vera Farmiga as Lee Hart, Michael Crider as Bob Dole, Spencer Garrett as Bob Woodward, Alfred Molina as Ben Bradlee, and Braden Bunch as Tom Brokaw.

Green Book (PG-13 for violence, mature themes, profanity, racial slurs, smoking and suggestive material) Unlikely-buddies dramedy, set in the Sixties, about the friendship forged between a black classical pianist (Mahershala Ali) and his white chauffeur (Viggo Mortensen) driving around the Deep South during Jim Crow segregation. With Linda Cardellini, Don Stark and P.J. Byrne.

Ralph Breaks the Internet (PG for action and rude humor) Buddy sequel, set six years after the original animated adventure, finds Ralph (John C. Reilly) and BFF Vanellope (Sarah Silverman) embarking on a desperate quest in search of a replacement steering wheel for a broken video game. Voice cast includes Gal Gadot, Jane Lynch and Ed O’Neill.

Robin Hood (PG-13 for action, violence and suggestive material) Taron Egerton plays the title character in this action adventure which has the legendary outlaw joining forces with a former Moorish Crusader (Jamie Foxx) to lead a revolt against a corrupt English crown. With Eve Hewson as Maid Marian, Tim Minchin as Friar Tuck and Ben Mendelsohn as the Sheriff of Nottingham.

 

INDEPENDENT & FOREIGN FILMS

Becoming Astrid (Unrated) Literary biopic about Astrid Lindgren [1907-2002], the Swedish author best known for the Pippi Longstocking series of children’s books. (In Swedish and Danish with subtitles.)

The Christmas Chronicles (Unrated) Holiday comedy about a brother (Judah Lewis) and sister (Darby Camp) who hatch a plan to catch Santa Claus (Kurt Russell) on camera on Christmas Eve. Cast includes Kimberly Williams-Paisley, Oliver Hudson and Lamorne Morris.

The Favourite (R for profanity, nudity and graphic sexuality) Olivia Colman portrays Queen Anne [1665-1714] in this biopic revolving around the bitter battle between the Duchess of Marlborough (Rachel Weisz) and a servant (Emma Stone) for the frail monarch’s friendship and affections. With Emma Delves, Faye Daveney and Paul Swaine.

Shoplifters (R for nudity and sexuality) Crime drama, set in Tokyo, about a poor family that adopts a homeless child (Miyu Sasaki) they meet while stealing from a grocery store. Co-starring Lily Franky, Sakura Ando and Kirin Kiki. (In Japanese with subtitles.)

The World Before Your Feet (Unrated) New York City documentary chronicling peripatetic Matt Green’s 8,000-mile walk covering every block in the Big Apple.

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