J.K. Rowling gifted readers with the “Harry Potter” book series, and the same feelings of wonder and excitement were translated on the big screen for audiences to enjoy. While 2016’s “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” did an excellent job in delivering these emotions and living up to the “Harry Potter” series, its sequel lacks the desired magic.
“Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald” is written by Rowling and directed by David Yates, who directed the last five films taking place within Rowling’s Wizarding World. This movie takes place more than 50 years before Harry Potter was even born and is a sequel to “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.”
“The Crimes of Grindelwald” follows Newt Scamander, played by Eddie Redmayne, as he travels to Paris as requested by his former teacher Albus Dumbledore, played by Jude Law. Newt is sent to locate Credence, played by Ezra Miller, before the dark wizard and Albus’ former friend Gellert Grindelwald, played by Johnny Depp, can use the troubled young man as a weapon for his evil cause.
This summary seems to work best without spoiling anything, but there is definitely more convoluted factors that are densely packed into this film.
“The Crimes of Grindelwald” includes characters from the first film who seem to have little to no importance in this sequel. It’s obvious that the only reason they are in the movie is because they were introduced in the first one, and Jacob Kowalski, played by Dan Fogler, adds some great comedic relief.
Characters from the “Harry Potter” series are included for fan service and to hint that they might play larger roles in the future installments, such as Nicolas Flamel and Nagini, Voldemort’s snake companion who is actually a human in this film.
One thing this film has is great acting; Redmayne, Depp, Law and new addition Zoe Kravitz all give spectacular performances. Law is easily the best part of this film, not only playing a Dumbledore that fans will greet with positive familiarity, but his portrayal is so fresh and magnetic that I wish he was in the movie longer.
Redmayne again gives a terrific performance as the likable Newt whose interactions with the magical creatures are enjoyable to watch but is limited when compared with the previous movie.
Kravitz plays Leta Lestrange, the fiance of Newt’s older brother. She is a mysterious and exciting new character that Kravitz plays so well, but I wish the movie gave more time to explore this character in-depth. This is a problem that is seen a lot in this film. “The Crimes of Grindelwald” jumps back and forth between a wide variety of characters that aren’t given the proper amount of screentime to develop.
Depp plays a terrifying villain with a strong performance, but much like Law, I wish he was in this movie more. Although this movie is called “The Crimes of Grindelwald,” there’s nothing shown in the film that supports this title. The different plots that are thrown into this film overshadow this supposed terrible villain, and I found myself forgetting that he was even in this movie.
I think the biggest crime this movie committed was overpacking itself with characters, subplots and references that seemed to lead nowhere. This film relies on the idea that the audience assumes everything will be elaborated on in the next installments.
“Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald” had a few exciting parts, especially in the end, and was filled with wonderful performances. It’s always great to see the Wizarding World on screen with all of its special effects beauty.
Aside from all the mistakes this movie has, I will continue to hang on and hope that the next movies will learn and improve.