Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald - Review

Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald creates an atmosphere revolving around new characters within the series and piques interest with a more focused storyline. What is exceptionally noticeable about this film, however, isn’t the storyline, but the great acting by all the stars.

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Creating a sequel to any film is exceptionally hard, but even more difficult when dealing with Harry Potter fans and their critique of the universe that the first installment of the Fantastic Beasts series cultivated. However, David Yates, who is no stranger to the Harry Potter universe, considering his history of directing the last five out of ten movies in the franchise, makes a sequel as well as one can. Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald sees the franchise turn away from the original film’s plot line that followed Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne) and his collection of beasts within his magical suitcase; instead, the anticipated sequel leans heavily toward that of a prequel plotline rather than a spin-off to the Harry Potter universe. To the satisfaction of some fans and the disgust of others, Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald acts almost as a standalone film in comparison to the first, in terms of plotline and focus.

This sequel explores the main antagonist, Gellert Grindelwald, and his political agenda within the wizarding world, which is to disrupt the peace between muggles and witches/wizards. To my delight, this is what I wanted to see: a more concentrated storyline in comparison to the first, which seemed to be all over the place. Although I enjoyed this aspect, it was alarming to see that the film didn’t centralize around the typical protagonist and antagonist; rather, it seemed as if the writer threw in too many characters, many full of potential, but fell short. For example, Yusuf Kama, Leta Lestrange’s half-brother, felt as though the writers wanted him to be a three-dimensional character, yet, to the eyes of the audience, was a two-dimensional plot device used only to raise tension in Credence’s situation. The small story told about Nagini felt as if she was there only to name drop and attract original Harry Potter fans to this film. This felt unsatisfying all the way until the end of the film and begged the question of why characters like this were even necessary. Even Credence (Ezra Miller) was essential to the storyline and was still left unexplored by the film, and his purpose in the film felt more like a personified MacGuffin than a functioning, in-depth character.

Albeit, what I enjoyed most while watching this film was the acting. This film, like the last, is accompanied by wonderful acting; in particular, Eddie Redmayne, an established actor in Hollywood, does extremely well following his character's role of a shy and awkward wizard who puts his animals, and all beasts for that matter, in front of him. With not many scenes to showcase that potential, Redmayne does a splendid job at portraying this role through the little details. Ezra Miller was another actor I was particularly surprised by, as his role as Credence was brilliant as well. Miller excelled at depicting a boy who had previously been deprived of a childhood, barring little emotion, while being fearful of his powers and who he could become. With little to no screen time for an important character, he showed the audience how he could so easily portray a boy who had anxiety written across his face.

The movie itself has that great and iconic Harry Potter feel and tone, while creating a lot of buildup and excitement for the next film, despite the few downsides. Altogether, Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald was an unsatisfactory but enjoyable film, sometimes shaky in the plot as the story progresses, leaving some audience members confused. For those who don’t get lost, however, it creates an atmosphere similar to that of watching an old Harry Potter film, only with more action and less drama. This appeals to me for it shows what we never got to really see in the original series: an exploration of what it was like to be a wizard outside of Hogwarts, which is a relatively new chapter in this expanding universe. As a fan of the original movies, I found myself completely fascinated by the details explored in this new film, and felt as though the film did an excellent job at holding its own in comparison to the previous film in the series.