Fantastic Beasts: Crimes of Grindelwald Film Review (2018)

The wizarding world franchise is ready to expand from it’s successful debut spinoff Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them. Mild controversy surrounded this film on its release with the casting of Johnny Depp and the representation of the character Nagini. With that casted aside, the Harry Potter universe is expanding it’s horizon and the adventures of Newt Scamander continues.

 After events of the first film, Grindelwald escapes from the American Ministry of Magic and plans to track down Credence, the obscurus from the first film, he has escaped New York and headed to Paris. Newt Scamander is instructed by Albus Dumbledore to head to Paris to find Credence before Grindelwald does.  

 Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them was a fun spin off to the Harry Potter franchise that allowed an extended look to into the magical world that J.K Rowling has created. To see all the different beasts and new additions to the franchise was great and as a whole it was a good start to the series. Crimes of Grindelwald is the first chance to build upon the universe it has created and it does do that but at times at a questionable pace.

  Crimes of Grindelwald still has the introduction of new magical creatures which looks brilliant and will always be fun to watch but the pacing of this film is all over the place. The film is bogged down by continuous exposition and explanations of histories, family trees and legend that even for someone who is a fan of Harry Potter, was confused and lost track. The whole middle act was void of magic and wonder and filled with a lot of talking and explanation. 

   Johnny Depp as Grindelwald has huge potential as the main villain of the series but that potential was not used as much as they should of done. Depp has the ability to be as menacing as Ralph Fiennes as Voldemort but in Crimes of Grindelwald he wasn’t as evil and at moments justified. However it remains to be seen whether future installments can capitalise on the potential of Grindelwald as the main villain. Jude Law as young Dumbledore was a good casting choice and worked well and Eddie Redmayne as Newt Scamander was okay but overshadowed by much better performances from the cast. Zoe Kravitz as Leta Lestrange and Dan Fogler as Jacob Kowalski were some of the stand out performances and the most fleshed out characters beside Grindelwald and Dumbledore.

Crimes of Grindelwald has some exciting moments and some shocking plot twists that make future installments very enticing. However to get to that point was so exhausting and complex it ruined the reveal of them. There was also some ‘Skywalker’ moments in the film. Skywalker moments refers to Star Wars where everything always links to the Skywalker family even though it is a galaxy full of thousand of planets. It always seem too coincidental for the Skywalker family to be linked to any event in the franchise. Crimes of Grindelwald has too many fan service moments that create plot holes and inconsistencies for the Harry Potter history and lore that was created many years ago. Maybe sequels will fill in those holes but I can only see some sort of ex-machina plot device like it was all a dream to work in this case. 

 The film’s visuals were good as always, the setting of the French wizarding world wasn’t too dissimilar to the other countries but I do like the aesthetic of the wizarding world. There was one direction choice that I found unsettling throughout, there was a couple of times when people were in conversation and instead of the usual two shot normally used, the director chose to use a POV with a close up of the person’s face and it didn’t really work. 

 Crimes of Grindelwald has its moments and is fun in places but it focuses too much on the history, lore and exposition so much that you forget you are in a world full of magic and adventure. The film picks up in the end with shocks, reveals and moments of action but it is left with the bad taste in your mouth by the slow middle section of the film. There is a lot of fun in the film but there is so much potential in this world that to bog it down with explanation and politics that you wonder at times whether George Lucas was hired to write parts of this film. This film will please Harry Potter fans alike but may put off people who were interested by the first installment of Fantastic Beasts and wanted more. It was fun at parts but it could of been so much more.

Rating – ★★ 1/2

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