Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald Movie Review
Fans of the Wizarding World rejoice! The sequel to Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them has arrived. Titled The Crimes of Grindelwald, the film falls slightly short of fantastic but is still highly entertaining. It seems that's the tone for any Wizarding work that JK Rowling sets her mind to. It starts out cute and develops into a much darker story. That's the way the world is, after all. We begin by thinking everything's all right, that the world's all cuddles and rainbows, only to grow up and discover that it's a much darker place than we realized. I love how Rowling manages to pull this off, not only in the Harry Potter franchise but also now in the Fantastic Beasts series.
The film follows three storylines that collide together by the time the credits role. First, Grindelwald escapes custody and begins rallying his army while trying to find Credence, a powerful wizard who has yet to learn to control his powers. Second, Credence somehow survived the American Ministry of Magic's unified attack and has hidden away in Paris. He's become a part of a Magic-World Freak Show Carnival and longs to be free. He's fallen in love, or at least devotion, with Nagini, a woman cursed with transforming into a snake. Eventually, the curse will fully take over and she will no longer be able to turn human again. For those familiar with Harry Potter lore, Nagini was Lord Voldemort's pet snake. So, we're starting to see the connections to the future already. The third and most central story is that of magizoologist Newt Scamander who has been tasked by Albus Dumbledore to find Credence before Grindelwald does.
Obviously, there's a lot going on in the film. Rowling was able to tell the story without making the film feel overstuffed. Were there some unnecessary filler moments? Well, it may seem like it at first but everything comes full circle by the end. If anything, there were moments where the film dragged, as if the story was being stretched out a bit too much. That's probably the case because it felt a lot like Deathly Hallows Part 1 in the sense that this is the deep breath before the big war. But, according to earlier reports from Rowling herself, there's five total films planned which means there's three more to come out over the next 6 years. What Rowling plans to do is beyond me, but I'm certainly interested in seeing how it transpires.
We had a few familiar names with new faces this time around. Jude Law portrays young(ish) Dumbledore and Fiona Glascott plays young Professor McGonagall. Fiona only had a brief part so don't expect any Maggie Smith-esque wisecracks. Eddie Redmayne, Zoe Kravitz, Ezra Miller, Dan Fogler, Alison Sudol, and Katherine Waterston all return from the first, reprising their roles of Newt, Leta, Credence, Jacob, Queenie, and Tina respectively.
I personally felt that Jude Law was wonderful as young Dumbledore. He had the same cryptic speech and sly humor that Michael Gambon did. If ever there was a great casting choice, that was it. Speaking of great casting, Johnny Depp can be one fantastic villain when he wants to. Most of his characters in the past have been psychologically troubled people who really weren't downright evil people but had just been tormented and twisted by the injustices of life and society. Grindelwald, however, is just outright a bad dude. Johnny slid into the role perfectly, which was probably the therapy he needed at this point in his life.
One thing I absolutely loved about this film was that we got to learn about Leta Lestrange's past, which pieced together a lot of the puzzle of where Bellatrix would eventually come from. There's still a rather large piece missing but I'm sure that will be revealed in time. Also, there's a huge twist at the end involving Credence which sets up the next film. No spoilers, don't worry, but just know that it's huge.
In conclusion, I enjoyed the film and everyone in it. I loved the twists and surprises that Rowling pitched at us. I'm already anticipating part 3, due out in November of 2020. I give Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald a 3 out of 4.
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© 2018 Alec Zander