THE MINISTRY OF MAGIC — It’s time to take another trip into the wizarding world of J.K. Rowling with “Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald” heading to theaters. The sequel to “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” is now in theaters and fans finally get to see the next chapter of the story.
The first film was a magical adventure full of breathtaking visuals, heart-pounding action and delightful characters, and I was anxiously waiting to delve back into this world. While it wasn’t the return trip I was hoping for or expecting, it wasn’t all bad and had some really great things to offer; but don’t be expecting the whimsical playfulness of its predecessor.
Here is why “Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald” is an engaging film but a let down from the first:
The world is captivating
A part of me loved “Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald” for the same reason I loved the first movie: the immersive world.
Everything seen on screen is given so much thought and detail that I could lose myself inside this world for eons. The attention to detail to the time period is impressive, but it’s when we step into the wizarding world where things get really special.
When characters slip through a secret passageway and find themselves in this world right under our noses, it is hypnotic and you feel as if you’ve truly been transported to this place and you’re not just watching it on a screen.
These movies could be complete nonsense with no semblance of a story, and I’d still enjoy it thanks to the extravagant and engaging world-building.
The acting is excellent
One of the highlights of “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” was the fine acting from Eddie Redmayne, Katherine Waterson, Dan Fogler, Alison Sudal and Ezra Miller. These actors seemed to connect with the characters, which made it easy to become invested in their stories and personalities.
We get more of the same from those actors this time around, but we also have the added talents of Zoë Kravitz, Johnny Depp, Callum Turner and Jude Law.
While all of the actors seem to bring their best to the film, Jude Law was the real highlight. Law plays a young Albus Dumbledore, and he manages to make you like the powerful wizard even more now that we have a peek into his life as a young man.
While I didn’t love the direction they took some of the characters from the first film, I felt the acting was still on point and one of the reasons it was so easy to get lost in this world.
The conflict is intriguing
I’ve mentioned this in other reviews, but I love it when a villain dances the line of moral ambiguity and makes the audience question which side they would join. Thankfully Johnny Depp's Grindelwald did exactly this.
I won’t spoil anything as to Grindelwald’s plans and intentions, but J.K. Rowling has actually made the dark wizard’s quest empathetic and in some ways alluring. When the final reveal of his quest is made known, most audiences will find themselves fighting their own conscience about what is right and what is wrong. This makes for a much more intriguing storyline and villain.
It's missing the fun
“Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” struck a wonderful balance of peril, fun and darkness that made for a film that was easy to revisit. “Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald” has missed out on the fun portion and just gone for the peril and darkness, which is a mistake.
I’ve referenced “Fantastic Beasts” as the grown-up version of Harry Potter, but I think “Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald” took that moniker a little further than it needed to.
This world was tailor-made for a fun and whimsical adventure, but the filmmakers got so caught up in telling this story and highlighting the dark side of this world that they forgot to bring the levity and humor back in. There are moments that will make you smile, but even Dan Fogler’s Jacob Kowalski is no longer having fun in this movie and that’s a problem.
“Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald” is dark — likely the darkest trip to the Harry Potter universe I’ve seen to date. Certain scenes and actions will leave an ugly taste in your mouth.
There's too much going on
The central story of “Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald” is intriguing and entertaining, but there are too many side stories going on, making it tough to focus.
I have no issue with competing storylines or twisting narratives, but there are so many things going on that it’s hard to care about most of them and, at times, even harder to follow what’s going on.
Then there are so many setups that it seems like the movie ran out of time, so all of the payoffs had to be jammed into a small window, which makes a long movie feel rushed.
“Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald” is an interesting enough film to continue Newt Scamander’s story and get us interested for the next chapter, but overall it’s a somewhat disappointing follow-up to “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” that forgot to have a little fun along the way.
Make sure to check out Dave Clyde’s parent’s content guide for the film Friday on KSL.com.
“Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald” is rated PG-13 for some sequences of fantasy action.