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Movie Review: “Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald”

There are many movies that are worth seeing, but there are a lot of stinkers as well. My goal here is to weed out the good from the bad.

Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald

Theatrical Release: 11/16/2018

Theatrical Release: 11/16/2018

Synopsis

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 is able to get to him.

Newt Scamander has been 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, but he is selfless, he always tries to do the right thing, and the fantastic beasts he looks after make him severely unpredictable. Dumbledore knows Newt's tendency to always do what is right. He also knows that Newt’s vast experience with lost creatures makes him uniquely qualified to find Credence and reason with him, and he knows that Newt is a skilled wizard, capable of holding his own against Grindelwald’s forces. Newt may be too late, however, as Grindelwald's plan is already being set in motion.

Official Trailer

The Pros & Cons

All movies start with an average score of 75pts, points are then added or subtracted based on each Pro and Con. Each Pro or Con is designated points, ranging from 0-10, to convey how significant these Pros or Cons are.

The ProsThe Cons

Grindelwald & Dumbledore (+4pts)

Leta Lestrange (-6pts)

Newt & The Beasts (+8pts)

Credence (-4pts)

The Wizarding World (+6pts)

Queenie & Jacob (-3pts)

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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 was simultaneously nervous and intrigued. I was nervous that, by going back in time, the filmmakers would give Dumbledore an origin story, and they would end up taking a lot of the mystery out of the character. Fortunately, I thought the filmmakers handled the character well.

We got to see Dumbledore in his prime, but we did not get excessive development regarding the character, and where he came from. What the story did give us, was an explanation as to how Dumbledore and Grindelwald were connected. They were essentially equals in terms of skill and experience, and while Grindelwald wanted the magic world to rule over the non-magic world, Dumbledore wanted peace—so Grindelwald was basically Magneto, while Dumbledore was basically Professor X. The two had history, and they could not escape each other's shadows entirely. This created of a yin and yang vibe between the characters, which I really enjoyed. Grindelwald believed that the ends justify the means, but I felt that each life he took still weighed on him, he was just doing it for the greater good. I by no means sympathized with the guy, but it added some interesting depth to the character, and I was not expecting that.

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Con: Leta Lestrange (-6pts)

This is the first time we have seen this character, and it did 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 learned about a trauma from her childhood, we learned about her family tree, we learned 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 was sad and Zoey Kravitz did a fine enough job in the role, but her character felt very irrelevant and her backstory took up a lot of screentime. She was not a character that audiences will want to learn more about, but the filmmakers wasted a lot of screentime explaining her story anyway.

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Pro: Newt & The Beasts (+8pts)

Newt was definitely a socially awkward character, but he was just so different from most other characters in this world. It was easy to understand why he loved animals, and it was easy to relate to his innocence. His creatures were responsible for the majority of this movie’s wonder. The movie was significantly more exciting and entertaining whenever one of his beasts were on screen.

Some of the beasts were silly, some were fantastic, and they occasionally they made Newt feel like a Pokémon trainer, but they always achieved the desired effect. The movie showed us a few beasts, but it also made it clear that there were many more to see. It was important for the filmmakers to show enough beasts to make Newt feel relevant, and to entertain the audience, while not showing so many that they over-saturated the movie with too many creatures. I thought the filmmakers achieved a decent balance, as there were plenty of beasts, but not so many that the viewer would become desensitized to it, and not so many that it distracted from the story the filmmakers were trying to tell.

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Con: Credence (-4pts)

Credence was a pretty underdeveloped character in the last movie. In this one, he got a pretty elaborate backstory, but the character still felt like a bland side character when he should be the story’s focus. In this movie, they paired him with Nagini—yes, Voldemort's trusted snake from the Harry Potter movies. Nagini (Claudia Kim) was a woman who took a liking to Credence, and looked 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 much focus. The result was a storyline 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 one left a lot to be desired. There was a decent story here, but I did not think the filmmakers developed it properly.

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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 had something to do with seeing Dumbledore, and spending time in Hogwarts, but it definitely worked in tying these movies into the original ones. Newt went to Hogwarts looking for Dumbledore, and we even got flashbacks to Newt’s own time as a student in the wizarding school. The nostalgia came on strong, but came on naturally, as it made sense for the story, rather than feeling like nostalgia for the sake of having nostalgia. It was also neat to see Dumbledore as a Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher, and it was entertaining just to explore the Wizarding World once again. I think it has been the right amount of time since Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. This movie did not come out so quickly that the Wizarding World felt over-saturated or stale, and it has certainly not been long enough for me to lose interest.

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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 side-character when making a sequel? It would be totally fine, to leave a character out of a movie if their presence would not make any sense. I do not know how many filmmakers know that, but seemed like the filmmakers of this movie did not. As a result, we got two characters who had no place being in this movie, but the filmmakers gave them character development, and plenty of screen time anyway. They were around pretty much the whole time, but they did not contribute to what was happening in really any way, and having them in here seemed especially silly, because based on where the filmmakers of the last movie left things off, no one would have questioned their absence from this movie. It just seemed silly giving so much screentime to two characters who did not matter.

Grading Scale

GradeCategoryPoints

A+

Amazing

95-100

A-

Great

90-94

B+

Good

85-89

B-

Decent

80-84

C+

Average

75-79

C-

Watchable

70-74

D+

Bad

65-69

D-

Terrible

60-64

F

Garbage

45-59

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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 for Newt to visit Hogwarts in order to see him. The result was a movie that felt like it tied in very nicely with the original movies. Dumbledore and Grindelwald had a bit of a yin and yang relationship, which I enjoyed, and Grindelwald had surprising depth that I was not expecting. On top of that, Newt and his beasts were always either entertaining, exciting, or both.

There was a lot about the movie that I liked, but it still had a few major problems. Leta Lestrange, Queeni, and Jacob were all completely unnecessary characters that got a ton of screen time and development. At the same time, Credence and Nagini were important characters that got very little focus. 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 that any fan of the Wizarding World will enjoy watching, but it was not without its problems.

Comments

Literarycreature from Argentina on April 27, 2019:

Even though I like the first movie so much more than Crimes of Grindelwald, I absolutely agree with you that a lot of screen time got lost in things that were not really relevant for the story. Queenie's plot twist still has me pretty doubtful. It seems kind of out of character to me because it contradicted everything we had learned about her in the first movie. I was expecting more of Dumbledore and Grindelwald's story, more of Nagini's story and especially a little more development when it came to Newt and Tina's relationships and personal stories. Tina's character has a lot of potentials (And it's my favorite), but she is never given much space on the screen, which is a pity. And finally: Credence being a Dumbledore? I don't think so. I'm already making theories for the third!

Giovanni Rodriguez Images on December 04, 2018:

Nice one! I too did like it a little more than the first but all of it was pointless. Like Solo. Good, but not needed.