When the first Fantastic Beasts film came out in 2016, I expressed my enjoyment of the film overall but criticized the overall tone and story structure. The main plot, which saw Eddie Redmayne’s Newt Scamander hunt down missing beasts in 1926 New York felt weak and uninspired. Remember that Central Park scene? I wish I couldn’t. But the film was set against a much more interesting B plot, one full of dark wizards, infiltrators and dark magical and it looks like that’s where the magic will happen in the film’s sequel, Crimes of Grindelwald. Warner Bros unveiled a teaser trailer today and the film looks much more like something out of the Wizarding World than the first one ever did!
Let me just get to the obvious bit off the bat. For a movie that’s named after it’s villain, and who was an integral part of the plot in the first film, we actually get very little Grindelwald in this teaser. In fact, we only get two shots of him, with only one of those actually showing his face. It’s curious that the film is hiding Johnny Depp’s villain considering the film is titled about him, perhaps they’re wary of the controversy around the actor right now and don’t want to derail their marketing campaign? Or perhaps Depp is so good and integral that showing too much would ruin the film. Either way, its stands out.
J.K. Rowling returns to write the script along with Harry Potter 5-8/Beasts director David Yates. While the sequel shows some returning cast members, such as Jacob, Tina and Queenie, all eyes are on Jude Law’s Dumbledore. Looking dapper and perhaps a bit full of himself, Law’s Dumbledore doesn’t feel like the wise old man we’re used to, but that’s a good thing. This is the 20s after all and the yet to be headmaster of Hogwarts has a long way to go before he reaches that stage.
If you thought the first film was perhaps to withdrawn from the Harry Potter universe then this teaser starts off in a way that will put a smile on many long time fans, as Hogwarts is shown on screen yet again. It likely means nothing to the plot, but it’s one of many little moments in the teaser that reestablish that yes, this is the Wizarding World you love. Brooms, Thestrals, the school and the tone make this feel like “we’re back”. The film will also introduce us to Nicholas Flamel and Leta Lestrange, further establishing links to the Potter universe. The beasts are back too, but they don’t appear to be in a “Pokemon Go” fetch quest plot line like the first film, which is a huge relief. Also back is the out of this world set design from the first film and the Potter films. Seriously-the sets in these films are stellar. They feel so alive and real in a world where big budget blockbusters rely so heavily on CGI backgrounds.
It’s 1927 in Crimes of Grindewald, and Newt is drawn away from his book tour to embark on quest on the behalf of his former professor, Albus Dumbledore. The Dark Wizard Grindelwald has made good on his threat and has escaped the American prison he was sent to at the end of the first film. His mission? Subjugate all non-magical beings. Now, if you’ve read the books, you’ll know how important this plan is and how it ties back to Dumbledore. If you haven’t, I won’t spoil it here. Newt’s mission sees him reuniting with his friends from the first film and hoping over to Paris. Producer David Heyman has commented that the film takes on a “thriller” tone this time around as the gang hunt down Grindelwald. Another element added to the fray are wizarding bounty hunters, a magical circus and Ezra Miller’s Credence, the Obscurus from the first film. How he fits into the narrative remains to be seen but it’s likely Grindelwald hasn’t given up looking for him. The teaser doesn’t set up much, and largely uses visuals to get us interested, but the film does feel quite different from its predecessor.
Personally, I’m much more excited for this film but it also really has to deliver. With three more of these to be made, this film has to hook to and make me want to commit to five more films. If it’s similar in quality to the first film, I’ll be letdown. But this first teaser admittedly has me excited to return to Hogwarts and the wizarding world.