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Movie Review: "Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald" by David Yates

I love watching classic cinema and giving recommendations on what to watch.

Movie poster for 'Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald,' released in 2018 and starring Eddie Redmayne, Johnny Depp, and Katherine Waterston.

Movie poster for 'Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald,' released in 2018 and starring Eddie Redmayne, Johnny Depp, and Katherine Waterston.

Two years ago, the Harry Potter fanatics had the chance to come back to the magical world of JK Rowling with the release of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. The adventures of Newt Scamander and his creatures now have their continuation, but this time far from American soil and under very different circumstances.

A Summary

In 1927, some months before the incidents in New York, the Magical Congress of the United States of America is making arrangements to transfer the dark wizard Gellert Grindelwald, who has been under custody since his capture, to Europe, to be tried for his crimes.

In spite of all the security measures taken not only by MACUSA but also by the British Ministry of Magic, Grindelwald, helped by an inside ally, manages to free himself and escape in the transfer carriage with an unknown destination.

Three months later, Newt Scamander is at the British Ministry, in a renewed attempt to restore his international travel rights, which have been banned after his trip to New York, preventing him to go back to visit Tina as he has promised. The Ministry is only willing to let him leave the country if he joins the Magical Law Enforcement Department, where his brother Theseus currently works, to help to find Credence, the obscurus, who would have survived MACUSA Auror's attack months ago. Newt, knowing that he is expected to kill the boy, refuses to do it, and Auror Grimson is sent in his place.

On his way back home, he meets Dumbledore, his former professor and friend, who also asks him to find Credence, who he believes still has a chance to be saved. Here it is revealed that it was Dumbledore himself who indirectly sent Newt to America because he knew Credence was there. Still, Newt does not want to have more trouble with the Ministry and refuses to go too.

That same night, his American friends Queenie and Jacob show up in his apartment, letting him know that they are in England with the purpose of getting married. However, Jacob’s awkward behavior gives Newt the clue that Queenie has him under a spell, having no other way to convince him of the wedding, because as it is known, relationships between magical and non-magical people are forbidden in their country, and it would put Queenie in danger of being arrested. Newt retires the spell, and after an argument with Jacob, Queenie leaves to find Tina, who is at the moment in Paris, working an assignment. After finding out about Tina’s presence in Europe through a postcard Queenie left behind, Newt and Jacob decide to go to Paris themselves to find both sisters.

Meanwhile, Tina is also trying to find Credence, and her investigation leads her to meet a mysterious man, Yusuf Kama, who is working with the same purpose. The search for Credence and the discovery of a prophesy which may involve him will end up taking most of the main characters to the French city, where the young man is attempting to find information about his past and his family history. Grindelwald himself has a special interest in the boy because he knows he is capable of achieving something he cannot: The destruction of the biggest threat to his cause.


What Wasn't as Great

I had great expectations regarding this film, but I have to admit that on the day of the release, I left the cinema quite disappointed.

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I do not think that the movie itself is necessarily bad, as it has been said, but as a consummated fanatic, I cannot help but feel that the plot could have been better.

Perhaps part of the mistake of the filmmakers was to reveal so much beforehand because it prevented the fans from getting really surprised by the story. I had been following the film promotion during the past months and I can tell that I knew a bit too much before the release. Also, the early screenings generated a wave of spoilers that many fans had difficulties avoiding, even though the lucky ones that had the chance to watch it before the international release were asked to protect the secret.

Many details that were revealed in the trailers, such as the participation of well-known Harry Potter characters such as Nicolas Flamel or Nagini, made us think that their part in the story was going to be a bigger one, but the truth is that we barely get to see them. We were given many potentially interesting characters, but their personal stories, something I was looking forward to knowing more about, were not explored. It is obvious that two hours are not enough to center in on every character’s background, but personally, I would have preferred to be introduced to fewer people and to have a better understanding of the ones I already knew.

Queenies’s character still has me very much puzzled, and not in a good way. Despite not being my favorite (I found Tina far more easy to relate to) I had sympathy for her, and I loved the close relationship she had with her older sister. I was pretty sure that Queenie was going to end up joining Grindelwald, but I could never imagine that things were going to happen the way they did. Her sweetness and gentleness in the first film were charming, and my guessing was that she was going to be pushed to do it because of the pain, and was going to feel remorseful about it. What I could see in the movie was a woman that did not care about anything or anyone anymore, whose only objective was to get what she wanted at any price, without dedicating a single thought to Tina or even Jacob, who was, in the beginning, her reason to pick Grindelwald’s side. I notice that the sisters do not have a single scene together in this film, and it was disappointing for me. I completely agree with Jacob: She is crazy. I do not think I like where Queenie’s story is going, mostly because I do not find it that believable.

Leta and Theseus on other hand were a pleasant surprise, but I could not feel that attached to them because we were not allowed to see much of their relationship. Leta’s flashbacks did not fulfill my wishes, because I was eager to see more of her and Newt’s friendship and the incidents that finished it and there was none of that. Her death was not completely unexpected to me, but I feel sorry for it. She looked like an amazing character. I know I am not the only one because I’ve been hearing some theories that say that she may be alive. Could that be possible?

The main surprise of the film was Credence's origins. I had been hearing for months that he was Leta’s brother, and I had assumed it to be true. However, Credence being a Dumbledore does not seem very possible to me. My guess is that Grindelwald says this to him just as a way to create a feeling of hate within the boy towards a brother that never cares about him, something that would be useful for his cause in the future.

Why Should You Be Watching It?

Even though this movie did not amaze me as much as the first one did, I admit that it had many things I liked. The scenes between Newt and Tina were especially tender and amusing, as well as the ones in which the creatures took the protagonism. The special effects were very well made, and the performances of most of the actors were excellent.

But if there was something I found perfect about the movie, it was the soundtrack. I listened to it before watching the film, and I loved every second of it. James Newton Howard’s work is one of the most magical things I have ever heard, being powerful, thrilling, touching and capturing the essence of every single scene in the most wonderful way.

I expected more, but I am aware that this is only the second part. What is true is that the movie has left many questions and prepared the soil for the story to take off in the following installments, something I am very much looking forward to seeing.

What's Coming Next?

The third movie of the franchise, Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore, is set to be released in the spring of 2022. Hopefully, the next chapter of the story will leave me more satisfied.

© 2018 Literarycreature

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