Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald – Film Review

I wasn’t the biggest fan of the first Fantastic Beasts so I wasn’t excited for The Crimes of Grindelwald and I had pretty low expectations – and that feeling was accurate because the film is just a bit meh.

Once again the film focuses on Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne) who has been banned from travelling outside of the UK after the events of the first outing. However, he breaks his ban on the orders of Dumbledore (Jude Law) who wants him to track down to Credence Barebone (Ezra Miller) in Paris before he is recruited by the evil Gellert Grindelwald (Johnny Depp). Newt travels to Paris with Jacob (Dan Fogler) to find Credence as well as sisters Tina (Katherine Waterston) and Queenie (Alison Sudol).

If you are reading that plot thinking ‘it doesn’t sound like much happens’ then you would be correct. This is a two hour and 15 minute film about everybody trying to figure out Credence’s true identity and track him down before Grindelwald does. That is it! It didn’t need to be that long and it felt really dragged out, like they were deliberately trying to make this story a feature length instalment when it probably could have been told within the first hour of a more solid movie. This is what happens when you try to stretch a franchise to five films when there’s not enough material.

I wasn’t all that excited about the first Fantastic Beasts, so it was hard to get thrilled by the events of this one, which is slower and has less stuff going on. The Crimes of Grindelwald is stuffed full of side plots to pad it out, meaning the main cast are separated for a large portion of the movie, and it’s just not written very well, with huge exposition dumps throughout. This is a shame because there are some great action sequences, some fun beasts and some amazing visual effects.

How you respond to the revelations will also depend on how well you know the Harry Potter world. For example, I have seen the films but don’t remember them well so I didn’t pick up on some of the references or really grasp the implications of the reveals, but my Potter-loving friend was not happy with them, especially since they undo some of what we know already (that’s all I will say). I’m really shocked J.K. Rowling – who wrote the screenplay – would do that to her legacy and piss off her Potter fans.

Redmayne is still a lovely and likeable lead as the awkward nerd Newt but my favourite was Law as the new Dumbledore. He’s not in it very much but he’s as charming and captivating as ever and I’m looking forward to seeing him to do more in the later films. It’s conflicting seeing Depp on screen given his personal life but he was simply fine and suitably creepy as Grindelwald. Miller and Claudia Kim as Nagini get very little to do here, Waterston has basically been reduced to the love interest role and I would have liked more background on Newt’s brother Theseus (Callum Turner). I enjoyed Zoe Kravitz as Leta Lestrange and was impressed by her British accent, Fogler helped up the comedic quota (Redmayne has a large portion too) and Sudol gave her character more personality, life and agency this time around, although I’m not sure I agree with her choices.

So Fantastic Beasts looks great but does little to prove why it was a worthy/ necessary instalment. It is fairy entertaining and doesn’t feel as long as its running time, but the narrative is weak, there are too many characters off doing their own thing, the title is quite misleading, the revelations are risky and it seems to be more focused on setting things up for the next one.

In cinemas from Friday 16th November 

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