After establishing a new set of characters within the fictional world of Harry Potter in 2016’s “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them,” Warner Bros. returned to the universe earlier this month with “Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald.” Like its predecessor, “The Crimes of Grindelwald” was written by “Harry Potter” author J.K. Rowling and is based around characters and stories mentioned in the the book series.
Over the film’s first ten days, “Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald” has weathered a lackluster critical reception and a slow domestic debut.
There is no disguising the fact that “Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald,” has flaws.
The second installment in the planned five part “Fantastic Beasts” series is sometimes slow. The film struggles to find a balance between telling a compelling standalone story and setting up plot lines for larger, multi-movie story arcs. The film stars Johnny Depp as the titular villain Gellert Grindelwald. Depp became a controversial enough casting to push some fans away, as a result of allegations of domestic abuse that were denied by him and the studio.
That said, there are many aspects of this movie that are both entertaining and well written. Fantastic Beasts’ hero Newt Scamander, played by a charmingly dorky Eddie Redmayne, continues to be one of the best characters created by Rowling and her special effects department. Redmayne is able to impress both as a talented magic beast handler, which allows the computer graphics team at Warner Bros. to show off their stunningly beautiful animations, and as the confused and hopeless suitor of the equally awkward American witch Tina Goldstein (Katherine Waterston).
Some parts of the movie were very predictable, like the opening sequence of Grindelwald escaping a prison transfer after ending his appearance in the first movie with the line “do you think you can hold me.”
At other times, however, Rowling really impresses. Grindelwald’s motivation for wizard superiority is the most striking. He claims that a wizard-run world is necessary by showing images of the impending Second World War and pointing out that it’s only a matter of time before those weapons are turned on wizards.
The biggest problem with the movie is that even with a run time of a little over two hours, “The Crimes of Grindelwald” struggles to find room for the all the things happening within it. While the film is entertaining and the CGI magic and music—the hallmarks of a “Harry Potter” film—carry the movie, the number of different subplots and scenes designed to set-up the next three movies in the series made for a final product that left moviegoers a little overwhelmed.
3 stars out of 5 stars