Published on November 16th, 2018 | by Dan Nicholls


Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald

Newcomers may want to start somewhere else in the Potterverse series, but true blue fans will find something to enjoy in The Crimes of Grindelwald.

The Wizarding World will never die! We supposedly said goodbye to the land of magic and muggles over seven years ago when the Deathly Hallows came to a close. But here we are with the second spin-off feature set in the same universe (taking place decades earlier). As even fans of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them will admit, the adventures of Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne) can’t help but feel like an also-ran compared to the flagship Harry Potter series. And yet, for the people who love the world that J.K. Rowling created, no number of beasts is enough to satiate our hunger.

Thankfully for the Pottermores, Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald is like a leisurely Sunday drive through the scenery we love. It takes its time, it’s kinda slow in spots, and it doesn’t end any place we didn’t see coming. But if you can be patient there are enough rewards to justify the trek. If you’re not a fan of this franchise then please stay away. It’s arguably the least accessible film yet in the Potterverse for newbies. There are so many characters and exposition flows in almost every scene. Fans are going to eat this up with a spoon, others won’t.

The Crimes of Grindelwald is basically about every character trying to track down the mysterious Credence (Ezra Miller) because they want to know his true identity. Credence leads them to Paris, where he’s looking for the same answer. Who cares? Can’t he just be Credence? There’s a systematic problem in modern pop culture where lineage and heritage is treated as a major plot point. Star Wars: The Last Jedi wisely eschewed dreams of Rey being born a Skywalker, but that pissed off a lot of angry nerds. Star Trek Into Darkness made a meal out of whether or not the villain was Khan – turns out, it didn’t matter in the least.

Among the standouts in the stacked cast is Zoe Kravitz as Leta Lestrange. As if that last name didn’t tip you off enough already, she’s got an important role to play here. Redmayne is charming and does the same thing he did in the first movie – which isn’t a complaint. Katherine Waterston is wasted once again as Tina, and Dan Fogler surprisingly somehow doesn’t overstay his welcome as the comic relief. Plus, Jude Law as Young Dumbledore is absolutely fantastic.

The elephant in the room is the controversial Johnny Depp as the titular Grindelwald. The actor doesn’t distract as much as you’d expect but he also isn’t given much to do. Grindelwald is talked about more than we see him actually do some bad things. His character is an example of the film’s problematic need to tell you that something big is coming, so stick around until the end. Credence is also talked about more than he actually appears on screen. The other characters seem like hypemen for the more interesting persons waiting in the wings.

How long will this go on for? It’s been rumored that there will be a total of five Fantastic Beasts movies. If the powers that be are wanting to remain relevant over the next decade they’re better off to show more instead of tease all the time. The mystery box doesn’t need to come into play with every film and the sparse action set pieces in The Crimes of Grindelwald feel few and far between as a result of too much wasted (plot) time.

If you can spend all day talking about aurors and Nifflers then this is the movie you’ve been waiting for. Fan turnout is probably going to be huge. At this point there’s practically no reason for newcomers to check this out blindly, but here’s hoping the next installment does a little more than just placate the diehards for over two hours. But as it is, Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald is still charming, funny, and visually astounding enough to keep the target audience satisfied. For now.

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About the Author

is a Vancouver-based, lifelong movie geek who's been a projectionist, critic, director, (accidental) actor, and writer in the industry since E.T. phoned home. @dannicholls

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