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Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald

It’s been 11 years since the final book in the HARRY POTTER series was released, and yet the franchise remains as popular as ever.

In fact, as new generations are being introduced to author J.K. Rowling’s incredibly rich magical world, the brand has become even more prevalent in popular culture. Products with the Potter brand (toys, clothes, bedding, games, etc.) can be purchased in virtually every major retail store you walk into, and those who grew up reading the novels are now sharing the stories with their children.

Though we may have seen the last of Harry, Ron, and Hermione, the wizarding world lives on. Rowling delivered a prequel of sorts in the form of a screenplay with 2016’s FANTASTIC BEASTS AND WHERE TO FIND THEM. It featured Eddie Redmayne as Newt Scamander, and took place decades before Voldemort attempted to assassinate The Boy Who Lived. The film was a massive hit, and looked to launch a franchise that would accompany POTTER to form the foundation of the magical world that audiences and readers had already fallen in love with years previously. With the recent release of
FANTASTIC BEASTS: THE CRIMES OF GRINDELWALD, Rowling and company look to add to the lore and further develop the backstory to the universe that we (I’m including myself in your ranks, Potter nerds) simply can’t get enough of.

CRIMES OF GRINDELWALD takes place mere months after the events of the first FANTASTIC BEASTS film. After being captured, thanks in large part to the efforts of Newt, Grindelewald (Johnny Depp) has been kept under lock and key, and his tongue has been removed in order to prevent him orchestrating any sort of daring escape. He is set to be transferred to England, where he will have to face a litany of charges due to his dangerous and dastardly deeds. Despite the best efforts of the Aurors who were to transport him, Grindelwald escapes, and the world becomes a much more dangerous place for wizards, witches, and muggles alike.

Meanwhile, in England, Newt is striving to have his travel restrictions lifted. He implores the Ministry of Magic to allow him to roam about the world unencumbered in order to continue his research into his beloved beasts. The Ministry agrees to lift his travel ban with one caveat, he must become an Auror and join their ranks. Newt, who would rather play peacemaker, refuses, much to the chagrin of his brother, and fellow Auror Theseus (Callum Turner). Newt would rather focus his energy on educating the world about the seemingly formidable creatures, and finding a way to rekindle his short-lived relationship with Tina (Katherine Waterston).

There is a A LOT going on in CRIMES OF GRINDLEWALD. Grindelwald is trying to convince his followers that they are to revolutionize the wizarding world, and hopes to utilize the unharnessed power of the troubled youth Credence (Ezra Miller) in order to do so. Albus Dumbledore (Jude Law), who may be the only person who can topple Grindelwald, is unable to do so based on a bond that the two had when they were students together. Newt continues to search for Tina, and after finding her, hopes to track down Credence before his powers can be utilized for evil. Despite his affection for Tina, he is still conflicted in his feelings for Leta Lestrange (Zoe Kravitz) who is currently engaged to Theseus. Meanwhile, Leta may share a connection to Credence that could define the very nature of his existence. And finally, Jacob (Dan Fogler) and his girlfriend Queenie (Alison Sudol) attempt to navigate their perilous union as relationships between witches and muggles are deeply frowned upon and downright dangerous.

Even with a running time that approaches two-and-a-half hours, Rowling has crammed so much story into one film that at times, it threatens to overload the audience. There are very few wasted moments, and the whimsical delights from the first film (mainly in the form of beautifully elaborate creatures) are few and far between. With the exception of a brief jaunt around Newt’s home/laboratory, the creatures are utilized solely for the purpose of advancing the scene that they are a part of. The rest of the time is spent rapidly advancing the storylines of all of the major characters that grace the screen.

It’s hard to believe that the second film in the FANTASTIC BEASTS franchise will win over any new converts, but at this point, that shouldn’t be a surprise. Fans of Rowling’s wizarding world, however, are likely to be as enamored as I was. Despite the multitude of subplots and storylines, I was enthralled from start to finish, and quite honestly, couldn’t get enough. As I watched, I couldn’t help but wonder how much Rowling had planned out at the time she wrote the POTTER series, and how much of this she is making up as she goes along. Regardless of what the answer is, I love seeing how all of this will fits in with the HARRY POTTER canon.

The production design of director David Yates’ (who was at the helm of four of the HARRY POTTER films) team was magnificent, and filled with enough magical eye-candy to keep the viewer engaged at all times. The special effects were seamless, and the action sequences were thrilling. I suppose there will be some who have moved on and are ready to close the book on the wizarding world, based upon some of the negative reviews I’ve seen on this film, but for me, and at least quite of few of the audience members who have already helped GRINDELWALD gross more than $400 million worldwide, I think it’s fair to say that the countdown to the third installment has already begun.

Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald

GRADE: B+

RATED: PG-13

RUN TIME: 2h 14min

GENRE: Adventure,  Family,  Fantasy

STARRING: Eddie Redmayne, Katherine Waterston, Dan Fogler

DIRECTORs: David Yates

Writers: J,K, Rowling

A special thanks goes to Regal Cinemas at Destiny USA for allowing me to attend this month’s film.

Brian Miller
Film Critic
Based out of Central New York, Brian Miller is a film critic who works in television, radio, and print. Providing passionate and energetic takes on every movie he sees, he looks for the best in a movie, not the worst.