Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald

I thoroughly enjoyed Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them as it did a great job at broadening the magical world of the Harry Potter franchise with interesting new characters and fantastical beasts. It left you excited about where the franchise was headed and eager to learn more about its characters. Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald does none of that. It’s an unnecessarily complex and bloated film that even the most die-hard of Harry Potter fans will find difficulty enjoying.


The Crimes of Grindelwald opens with Grindelwald (Johnny Depp) escaping from his imprisonment at the end of the first film and working towards amassing a following of pure-blood wizards in order to rule over both wizards and Muggles alike. Under the guidance of Albus Dumbledore (Jude Law), Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne) is sent to Paris to find Credence (Ezra Miller), who happened to survive his destruction thanks to a tiny Obscurus fragment escaping. Grindelwald is in search of Credence as well because, according to rumors and folklore, Credence may be the last in a long line of powerful pure-blood wizards and is the key to defeating Dumbledore.


That’s just the general gist of the Fantastic Beasts sequel, but the story is so much more complicated than that. Newt honestly is secondary to the ridiculousness that is both the Dumbledore and Lestrange households. It’s a magical episode of Maury where we’re trying to piece together this confusing family tree, and honestly I’m still not quite sure what its ultimate purpose is. Sure, Credence might be the only one powerful enough to defeat Dumbledore, but the film doesn’t give a good explanation as to why his heritage matters so much. It’s the same for Leta Lestrange (Zoë Kravitz), who is also searching for answers to questions that have little payoff in the end. Rather than expanding the world of Harry Potter, The Crimes of Grindelwald feels likes its pushing itself into a corner with only a few key players of importance.


Furthermore, the film is barely able to stand on its own. It’s a two hour and 15 minute teaser for whatever the next sequel is going to be. Johnny Depp is surprisingly decent as Grindelwald but it’s mostly pointless because he’s only there to set up the events of future films. There is no real conflict, only tension building.


That being said, I did enjoy the depiction of magic throughout the film. The opening scene of Grindelwald breaking out is fantastic. The spellcasting feels gritty and real, and less magical in the best sense of the word. It’s believable.


Even for the most die-hard Potterheads, Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald is a hard pill to swallow. It’s story and massive amount of characters is confusingly complex and only further complicates the lore rather than expand upon it. Everything in the film builds to a conclusion that never fully arrives.

Matt Rodriguez
Review by Matt Rodriguez
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