Newt Scamander travels to Paris to help his mentor Albus Dumbledore
thwart the dark wizard Grindelwald and his diabolical schemes.
Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald (2018)
Directed by David Yates
Written by J.K. Rowling
Starring Eddie Redmayne, Johnny Depp, Jude Law,
Katherine Waterston, Dan Fogler, Ezra Miller, Zoë Kravitz,
Alison Sudol, Callum Turner, William Nadylam,
Claudia Kim, Brontis Jodorowsky
Prequel to 2001's Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
Sequel to 2016's Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
Based on characters created by J.K. Rowling
They really should have let this franchise die after the conclusion of the main series. I’m trying to like these Fantastic Beasts films, but I just walk away bored and not very excited for the next film. I didn’t enjoy the first film and nothing in this installment excited me all that much. It’s as if the magic and wonder that was apparent in the Harry Potter series has been completely replaced by the feeling of a soulless cash grab. Worst part, we've still got three movies with nothing indicated to me that the series will finally improve.
So, the main issues I had with this film are actually carry overs from the previous one mixed with all new problems. Firstly, the main character is somehow the blandest character in the cast, and also, I'm not really feeling like he’s even a main character in his own film. Seriously, I would love if Newt gets written better soon. The other main thing is the story is just not engaging. Not one bit. This also conveniently leads to the problem specific with this film. And that is the fact that it’s really just a filler movie. It throws every twist, turn, and curve it can at you. But, instead of landing and feeling like a significant plot moment for this specific movie, it’s just set up for a future film. A future film which I could honestly even care less for.
Again, I wanted to like these movies. Considering they are written by J.K. Rowling herself, directed by David Yates (who did many of the better Harry Potter films), and just the fact that we were about to go back into this magical world, I was giddy with anticipation. But, over the course of these two films, my excitement has died. This installment makes a small step with a great performance from Johnny Depp as the villain. Everything else, though, just doesn’t work.
A franchise film has certain expectations to meet these days. Not only must they continue the established "long game" story and build on the previous film, but they must also manage to exist as a standalone entity that can be enjoyed separately simply as a movie. Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald easily accomplishes the former, but never once comes close to the latter. This sequel lacks focus to say the least, and never really amounts to anything. After nearly two and a half hours of whimsy and exposition, nothing substantial actually happened apart from a twist that made no sense and more set-up for the next film. As a massive Harry Potter fan myself, I left the theater quite disappointed.
Following his previous adventure, Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne) is contacted by his mentor Albus Dumbledore (Jude Law, in what amounted to a glorified cameo after all the marketing suggested he was a major player), who needs him to go to Paris to help battle the dark wizard Gellert Grindelwald (Johnny Depp). Why Newt seems to be the lightning rod of trouble for this franchise has yet to be explained, seeing as he simply wants to study animals. Also unexplained is the return of Credence Barebones (Ezra Miller) who was seemingly obliterated in the first film. The mystery of his true identity is the driving force of the film and the reveal is interesting, but raises far more questions than need be for this franchise. Overall, the action sequences were impressive, but the story was subpar at best. It's almost like J.K. Rowling has finally sold out, betraying her artistic integrity for cold hard cash.
The first Fantastic Beasts may have been polarizing among Potter fans, but it was a welcome return to the Wizarding World that got better with each viewing. The Crimes of Grindelwald does little to further this story, acting solely as a filler movie between one and three. I wanted so badly to be immersed in the film like I once was, but it was missing the heart and soul that used to exist in this franchise. Hopefully the next one will try to recapture it, but once its gone, it's pretty much gone forever.