Movie Review Monday: Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald
The latest from the wizarding world hit theaters this weekend with the release of the second film in the Fantastic Beasts franchise, The Crimes of Grindelwald. The film was directed by Harry Potter alum, David Yates, and written by J.K. Rowling. The movie picks up a year after the first installment as Grindelwald escapes from the custody of magical law enforcement. The film sees the return of Eddie Redmayne as Newt Scamander and also introduces Jude Law as the younger Albus Dumbledore. Katherine Waterston, Dan Fogler, Alison Sudol, Ezra Miller, and Johnny Depp all reprise their roles for this second film, and the movie also introduces some new cast members in Zoe Kravitz, Callum Turner, Claudia Kim, and William Nadylam.
The story begins in 1927 with Gellert Grindelwald being prepared for a move from MACUSA headquarters. While he is in the middle of the transport, it is revealed that Grindelwald is already free and breaks out his accomplice during the transport. From there, Grindelwald flees to Paris, where Credence Barebone is searching for his biological family. Meanwhile, Newt Scamander is unsuccessfully trying to obtain a traveling visa after the damage in New York. Newt is then visited by Dumbledore, who wants him to travel to Paris in search of Credence. While Newt is originally hesitant, he decides to break the rules and travel to Paris once he discovers that Tina is there as well. Together, they all seek to find out the truth about Credence and figure out exactly what Grindelwald is planning.
So, while most critics are currently murdering this movie, I have to admit that I liked it a great deal. Admittedly, I am a huge Harry Potter fan and immensely enjoyed the first Fantastic Beasts as well, so I might be a little biased. However, this movie picks up where the first left off and dramatically builds the world that the rest of this franchise will follow. It delves a little more into the rise of Grindelwald and his ability to manipulate and appeal to many in the wizarding world. It introduces some new creatures along the way and also gives a glimpse at the magical community and headquarters in a new city. The film also boasts another magical score from James Newton Howard, which was a highlight.
I found the best part of the movie, though, to revolve around the character arcs for the old characters as well as the new. I know that many don’t enjoy Newt Scamander, but I enjoy the fact that he is such an unlikely, compassionate, and quirky hero. That still remains true in this story, and this film pushes him further and asks him to choose a side in this upcoming war. I also enjoyed the relationship that is presented between he and his brother, Theseus, and the growth experienced by the two of them. I thought Zoe Kravitz was fantastic as Leta Lestrange, and her journey in this story was also a compelling and somewhat unexpected one. I personally enjoyed where they took the character of Queenie, and her relationship with Jacob is always a moving part of the story. Jude Law as Dumbledore is one of the best casting choices of the franchise, and he manages to capture essences of both Harris’ and Gambon’s previous performances. Similarly, Depp’s performance was an improvement, and the relationship between Grindelwald and Albus is an intriguing part of this story that will only get more fascinating as the franchise continues.
Now, while I enjoyed The Crimes of Grindelwald, I can also admit its shortcomings. It is not as strong of an individual movie in terms of plot and structure as the first film was. It does have some variance in pacing that leaves the audience with a fairly slow second act. However, the movie dives more into these characters and truly begins to set up this main conflict between Gellert Grindelwald and Albus Dumbledore. The film also has a few unexpected reveals, and it is beginning to delve into the darker parts of the wizarding world. For any Potter fans out there, I think The Crimes of Grindelwald is worth a watch in theaters.
Mollie is a film enthusiast, aspiring writer/screenwriter, and a lover of all things Harry Potter, Star Wars, and Doctor Who. She is the co-founder of The Digital Shore (@thedigitalshore) and Above The Line (@atl_movies). You can follow her many adventures through Twitter and Instagram at @mcbeach.