REVIEW: “Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald”


Photo: Warner Bros. Pictures

Jonathan Montague, Staff Writer

Many wept when the Harry Potter series finally concluded in 2011 but, since Hollywood can never let some franchises die, the Wizarding World has been kept alive by the Fantastic Beasts franchise. Starting in 2016, these films chronicle the efforts to defeat Voldemort’s predecessor, Gellert Grindelwald, told through the eyes of young magical zoologist, Newt Scamander. Now Newt and crew return for the second installment, “Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald.” Does it raise the stakes?

The film opens as Grindelwald escapes the custody of MACUSA and heads for Paris. Newt tries to stay as far from the conflict as he can, but he ends up being recruited by his famous friend and former teacher, Albus Dumbledore. The hunt is now afoot with everyone working to find what it is Grindelwald is after and stop him from sowing more chaos.

“The Crimes of Grindelwald” is a decent narrative with a lot holding it back. The movie does an excellent job of portraying how fanatical individuals can seduce others into following them freely, how manipulative they can be without ever having to harm you.

Unfortunately, this movie has one massive flaw. None of the characters are truly involved in the action. Grindelwald is the only one who seems to make the plot progress forward, while our protagonists are one step behind the entire time. Furthermore, when certain characters meet their big moment, they are either waved away to keep the pace up or left out entirely.

The characters seem to be going through some big changes but not enough time is devoted for them to have an impact. One subplot does not even resolve in any way. It really drags the script down into mediocrity.

The actors all do an excellent job with their material, including the newcomers. Some have very little to work with and still manage to give good performances. Special mention goes to Eddie Redmayne, who can do no wrong as Scamander, Dan Fogler and Zoe Kravitz.

One thing that does remain intact is the sense of wonder created by the visuals and music. While slightly more gray in color palette, it still manages to catch the eye with its magnificent designs and effects.

While certainly flawed, I still had a lot of fun with “Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald.” The movie does a great job of raising the stakes and truly shows Grindelwald as the malicious threat he represents to the Wizarding World. If you want to see it, Potterhead or not, I would recommend a matinee.