FANTASTIC BEASTS: THE CRIMES OF GRINDELWALD is the latest film from director David Yates, based on the characters and stories of J.K. Rowling, and is the second installment in the Fantastic Beasts series. The film stars Eddie Redmayne (Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them), Katherine Waterston (Alien: Covenant), Dan Fogler (Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them), Ezra Miller (Justice League), Johnny Depp (Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl) and Jude Law (The Grand Budapest Hotel).
FANTASTIC BEASTS: THE CRIMES OF GRINDELWALD picks up right where Fantastic Beast and Where to Find Them left off, with the powerful dark wizard, Gellert Grindelwald (Johnny Depp), on the loose after having escaped custody. Now free, Grindelwald sets about gathering his followers to push his true agenda in having pure-blood wizards ruling over all non-magical beings. Hoping to circumvent Grindelwald’s plans, but not able to do so himself, Albus Dumbledore (Jude Law) contacts his former student, Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne) with the hope that Newt will be able to help in bringing to an end Grindelwald’s reign. However, as Grindelwald’s presence grows stronger and larger, the ripple effects of his actions send shock waves throughout the wizarding world.
Before I begin this review I feel it’s important to address the elephant in the room: Johnny Depp. Back in 2016, his now ex-wife Amber Heard filed a restraining order against the actor alleging that he threw an object at her face. If you have been reading my reviews for awhile and/or following me on social media, you know that I am a huge advocate for believing victims of assault. With that said, I will be making an effort not to focus this review on Depp. If you, or someone you know, is a victim of domestic assault, please visit https://www.thehotline.org/ or call 1-800-799-7233.
I have been a fan of the Wizarding World since J.K. Rowling’s first book, Harry Potter and the Sorceror’s Stone, so to see what she has created expand into the Fantastic Beast series has been something that I have welcomed with open arms. When the first movie came out in 2016 I was beyond ecstatic and instantly fell in love with the story as well as the introduction to lesser known, or new, characters and adventures. When FANTASTIC BEASTS: THE CRIMES OF GRINDELWALD was announced I found myself anxious with anticipation to see how the storyline would proceed following the events that unfolded in the previous film. Unfortunately, I wish I had better news to share with you because THE CRIMES OF GRINDELWALD failed to deliver on almost all accounts… I say almost all accounts because this movie had baby Niffler’s and they were god damn precious.
For me, the biggest issue I had with the film was how choppy it was. What I ultimately think the writers were trying to do was introduce new characters that would become more prevalent the further into the series we got. One of the characters I was most looking forward to seeing, and learning about, was that of Nagini (played by Claudia Kim), a woman who can turn herself into a snake, but we are barely given any information about her backstory. The same can be said about Leta Lestrange (played by Zoe Kravitz) as I felt like her presence in this film was a total missed opportunity. One of the biggest storylines from the previous film was that of Credence Barebone (Ezra Miller) and was one of the main reasons why I was looking forward to the sequel; however, his storyline got lost in the shuffle of all the others which was hugely disappointing. That’s not to say I didn’t like what they did with his storyline, I did, but it felt so rushed towards the end that when the moment we had all been waiting for arrived, it ended up falling flat.
There were some moments in the film that I did really enjoy. One of my favorite aspects was whenever Jacob Kowalski (Dan Fogler) was on screen. He provided genuine humor and I loved the natural chemistry he had with the other characters – whether for better or worse. Then there were the Nifflers – dear God do I love those furry little troublemakers – who do no wrong in my eyes. I want to begin a petition for J.K. Rowling to make an all Niffler movie cause I will eat that shit up in a heartbeat. But for reals, I love the creature designs whether it be the baby Niffler’s or the mythological creature, Zouwu. Lastly, I enjoyed the nostalgia factor of revisiting Hogwart’s castle, as that definitely pulled on my heart strings and made me miss the good ‘ole days of Harry Potter.
All in all, I really wanted to love FANTASTIC BEASTS: THE CRIMES OF GRINDELWALD, but alas, that was not the case. With too many storylines and too many characters, it made the film feel incredibly convoluted, something that it didn’t need to be. Also, I’m still not sure what all the crimes against Grindelwald were, which may be because I have a really poor memory or because they were never really stated. Whatever the case may be, what really disappointed me was not seeing Credence’s storyline flourish in the way that it should have because his character is by far the most interesting. With three other films in the works, I can only hope that THE CRIMES OF GRINDELWALD was just a misstep and that going forward there will be a more concise storyline.
FANTASTIC BEASTS: THE CRIMES OF GRINDELWALD arrives in theaters November 16, 2018.