Movie Review: “Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald”
Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald
Grindelwald (Johnny Depp) is in custody, but he has acquired a massive following in the wizarding world. There is no way of knowing just how deep his influence goes, so his escape may be imminent. Grindelwald’s plan is unclear, but Credence (Ezra Miller) is very obviously at the center of it. Albus Dumbledore (Jude Law) knows this, but Credence’s whereabouts are unknown. Unable to personally make a move against Grindelwald, Albus Dumbledore reaches out to Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne) in the hopes that he will be able to find Credence and get him to safety before Grindelwald gets to him.
Newt Scamander is banned from international travel after what happened in New York, but he is content in London where he looks after his creatures. Newt is not a wizard that likes to choose sides. He is a skilled wizard, he is selfless, always tries to do the right thing, and his beasts make him severely unpredictable. Dumbledore knows all of this and knows that Newt’s vast experience with lost creatures makes him uniquely qualified to find Credence and reason with him while holding his own against Grindelwald’s forces. However, Newt may be too late, as Grindelwald is already making moves towards finding Credence.
The Pros & Cons
Grindelwald & Dumbledore (+4pts)
Leta Lestrange (-6pts)
Newt & The Beasts (+8pts)
The Wizarding World (+6pts)
Queenie & Jacob (-3pts)
Pro: Grindelwald & Dumbledore (+4pts)
I was not a fan of Warner Brothers taking the Wizarding World and giving it the prequel treatment. I did not have enough intrigue in what happened before the rise and fall of Voldemort. Then with this movie, I knew we were getting to know a young Dumbledore and I am not going to lie, I got a little worried. I was nervous that, by going back in time, the filmmakers would give Dumbledore an origin story, and would essentially take some of the mystery out of the character. Fortunately, the filmmakers did a good job with the character in this movie.
We get to see Dumbledore in his prime, but we do not get over explanation regarding the character, and where he came from. What the story does give us, is an explanation as to how Dumbledore and Grindelwald are connected. They are essentially equals and while Grindelwald wants the magic world to rule over the non-magic world, Dumbledore wants peace. The two have history, and cannot move on each other, which created of a yin and yang vibe between the characters. Grindelwald believes that the ends justify the means, but I felt that each life he took weighed on him. I by no means sympathized with the guy, but it added depth to the character that I was not expecting.
Con: Leta Lestrange (-6pts)
This is the first time we have seen this character, and it does not seem like she will play a big role in the next movie. Despite this, the filmmakers spent a ton of screentime explaining this character. We learn about a trauma from her childhood, we learn about her family tree, we learn about what her life was like while she was a student at Hogwarts, and I will be honest, I did not care about any of it. Now do not get me wrong, what the character went through is sad and Zoey Kravitz did a fine enough job in the role, but her character felt very irrelevant her backstory took up a lot of screentime. She is just not a character that audiences will want to learn more about, but the filmmakers waste screentime explaining her story anyway.
Pro: Newt & The Beasts (+8pts)
Newt is definitely socially awkward, but he is just so different from most other characters in this world. You get why he loves animals, and you relate to his innocence. His creatures are responsible for the majority of this film’s wonder. The movie was significantly more exciting or entertaining whenever one of his beasts were on screen.
Some are silly, some are fantastic, and occasionally they made him feel like a Pokémon trainer, but they always achieved the desired effect. The movie shows us a few beasts, but there are definitely many more to see. It was important for the filmmakers to show enough beasts to make Newt feel relevant, and entertain the audience while not over-saturating the concept with too many creatures. Fortunately, the filmmakers achieved this balance.
Con: Credence (-4pts)
Credence was a pretty underdeveloped character in the last movie. Now, he gets a pretty elaborate story about his past, but the character feels like a bland side character when he should be the film’s focus. In this movie, they pair him with Nagini (yes the snake from the Harry Potter franchise). Nagini (Claudia Kim) takes a liking to Credence, and looks after him on his journey to discover who he really is.
Both Ezra Miller and Claudia Kim did fine in these roles, but their characters were not given enough focus. The result is a story line that feels bland and that the audience will not be very interested in. After having seen the end of the movie, I am excited to see where these two characters will go in the next movies, but their roles in this movie left a lot to be desired. There was a decent story here, but the filmmakers did not focus on, or develop, it properly.
Pro: The Wizarding World (+6pts)
It may sound weird to say, but I thought this movie felt more like a Harry Potter movie than the previous movie did. This may have something to do with seeing Dumbledore, and spending time in Hogwarts, but it definitely worked in tying these movies into the original movies. Newt goes to Hogwarts looking for Dumbledore, and we even get flashbacks to Newt’s time as a student in the school. The nostalgia comes on strong but comes on naturally, and it was cool to see Dumbledore as a Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher. On top of all the nostalgia, it was also entertaining just to see all the magic happening. I think it has been the right amount of time since Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, where it has been long enough for the Wizarding World not to feel over-saturated, but has not been long enough for me to lose interest.
Con: Queenie & Jacob (-3pts)
These characters fit, for the most part, in the last movie, but they felt forced into this one. To start, the filmmakers completely un-did the conclusion to Jacob’s story from the last movie, but that was not even my problem here. My problem was that neither Jacob nor Queenie did anything noteworthy in this movie. The filmmakers took two irrelevant characters and tried to force them into being relevant, but it did not work.
Do the filmmakers know they do not have to reuse every character when making a sequel? It is totally fine, to leave a character out of a movie if they are not needed, and have no reason for being around. Instead, we get two characters who had no place being in this movie, but the filmmakers gave them character development, and plenty of screen time. They are just kind of around, but do not contribute to what is happening in any way. This made them feel like a waste of screen time, when we could have gotten more development for relevant characters like Newt, Dumbledore, Grindelwald, Tina, or so many others.
Grade: B- (80pts)
I was surprised to find that I liked Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald more than I liked Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. The filmmakers threw in plenty of nostalgia, but none of it felt out-of-place or forced. It made sense for Dumbledore to be a part of this story, and it made sense to visit Hogwarts in order to see him. The result is a movie that feels like it ties in very well with the original movies. Dumbledore and Grindelwald had a bit of a yin and yang relationship, which I enjoyed, and Grindelwald had subtle depth that I was not expecting. On top of that, Newt and his beasts are always either entertaining, exciting, or both.
There was a lot about the movie that I liked, but it had a few major problems. Leta Lestrange, Queeni, and Jacob were all completely unnecessary characters that got a ton of screen time, and development. Leta Lestrange, specifically, gets a ton of explanation to her past that the audience will simply not care much about, which feels like a waste considering she could have been taken out of the movie entirely and it would not have changed anything. At the same time, Credence and Nagini were important characters that got very little focus. Nagini was only important because she was around Credence, but the filmmakers seemed too concerned with cramming in all of the irrelevant characters and, by doing so, they lost sight of the ones that needed more attention. As a result, Credence felt like a very under-utilized character, so the reveal at the end of the movie was not as impactful as it should have been. Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald was a decent movie, but definitely had some problems.