+ Recommended – PG-13, Drama, Fantasy (133 minutes)
If you know nothing about me, you really only need to know that I’m ridiculously obsessed with all things Harry Potter. The introduction of the Fantastic Beasts films was a huge source of excitement for a lot of fans, myself included. I really enjoyed the first installment. The lore surrounding Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne) is endlessly fascinating and I love learning about the rather fantastic creatures that hide in the magical universe. Now this film… I’m still debating whether or not I liked it as a whole. Let’s discuss.
To start, the film is absolutely beautiful. Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald holds true to the stunning visuals we received in the first movie. We have very few new fantastic beasts to look at, instead they rely on the jokes they were able to get with the same creatures in the first. I wouldn’t have minded this much if we had explored more into the characters that carried over. I learned nothing new about Newt (Redmayne), Tina Goldstein (Katherine Waterston), Jacob Kowalski (Dan Fogler), and don’t even get me started on the utter butcher they did with Queenie’s (Alison Sudol) character. I’m all for switching up the tones in films, but the drastic change in character behavior was bizarre. At least costuming and set design stayed true, with gorgeous designs and scenes, at least I can say it was pleasing to watch.
I did enjoy the addition of two characters. Leta Lestrange (Zoë Kravitz), longtime friend of Newt and currently engaged to Theseus Scamander (Callum Turner) is the definition of tragic backstory. Even with her being the walking embodiment of a stereotype, I was still pleased with the way her character interacted on the screen. I would have had a stronger case to make with her had we known her in the previous film and I wish the movie had spent more time with her. The other new addition was a woman called Bunty (Victoria Yeates). We only have one scene with her and her role as assistant caretaker to Newt’s creatures, but it is a scene that brought me right back to the same emotions I felt in the first movie. The sense of wonderment is clear on her face and I loved everything about the scene. I felt the closest to Newt as well. In the rest of the film, there is a weird distance between him and everything that is happening on screen, and he almost comes across as less of a character for it. I was thoroughly disappointed with the lack of whimsy from the infamous Mr. Scamander, considering this is a series focusing on events directly related to him.
The most concerning aspect of Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald was the utter disregard for canon that has been established for too long now. Apparition directly onto the grounds of Hogwarts? C’mon, writers. You can do better than that. Young Dumbledore (Jude Law) was an excellent inclusion, and I can only hope they will go more in depth with the network of magical connections he has been establishing in the next film. Grindelwald was a weak sauce villain in this, I’m not going to lie. I was thoroughly disappointed with the lack of direction I felt in this film, especially when it came to the pacing. The “big climax” felt like a scene that should have started the build towards the end of the film, instead of being one of the last scenes in the movie. The overall sense I got from the whole shebang was very vague and I’m a little annoyed that I have to wait for the next one to see if I get even more annoyed about where they are going with Credence’s (Ezra Miller) character arc. All I’m going to say is: THEY BETTER NOT.
All in all, I’m still confused. I liked watching the film and I still have a lot of hope for the series. The writers better step it up though. I can’t do another directionless film that felt like it had a severe lack of the main character. If you are invested in the series, you’ll need to see this movie. Just like you needed to watch the first if you want to keep up in this one. Drop a comment below and let me know what you thought of Newt Scamander’s newest adventure.