Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes Of Grindelwald

Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes Of Grindelwald

Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes Of Grindelwald

2.0 / 5

Cherie Wheeler


David Yates


Eddie Redmayne, Katherine Waterston, Dan Fogler



Release Date

November 15 2018




Roadshow Films

Are all the prequel series to enormously successful franchises doomed to succumb to George Lucas syndrome?

Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald picks up close to where its predecessor left off, taking us into episode two of five(!!) in the prequel series. After a brief period in captivity, the powerful dark wizard Grindelwald (Johnny Depp) escapes imprisonment. He sets about gathering followers to aid in his sinister cause of rising pure-blooded witches and wizards up to reign supreme over the non-magical. Having shared a history with Grindelwald and seeing it his duty to stop him, Albus Dumbledore (Jude Law) recruits his former student Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne) for the task, who, along with his former allies Tina Goldstein (Katherine Waterston) and Jacob Kowalski (Don Fogler), heads to Paris to track down and stop the dangerous wizard.

The first entry, Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Themcertainly didn’t recapture the magic or provide a particularly good setup for another extended period in the wider ‘Wizarding World’. It was, at the very least, watchable enough to forgive Warner Bros. for cashing in and J.K. Rowlingfor attempting to stay relevant. The Crimes of Grindelwald avada-kedavras this newly established flow and the results are less than spellbinding.

Forgoing the steady world-building and gradual reveals and payoffs that kept Harry Potter accessible across eight movies, Fantastic Beasts descends directly into the dark tone of the later Potter chapters. In rushing, the darkness feels both unearned and devoid of impact, especially since most of the one-note characters simply have not been fleshed out. Rowling’s story itself comes across as convoluted fan fiction. It tends to favour side-characters delivering monologues and backstories that no one will be able to follow without a PhD in Pottermore.

Frequent tacked-on callbacks and foreshadowing of the events of Harry Potter, along with a superfluous return to Hogwarts, drive home how poorly this series stands on its own. Jude Law fares fine as a young Dumbledore, but like so many of the parts that make up this prequel, he’s just there as a name we recognise. Surprisingly not terrible is Johnny Depp, who could potentially have a new calling as a controversial figure with twisted villains – even if their motives are clumsy and make completely unsubtle parallels to contemporary politics.

Once a forerunner in amazing cinematography and visual effects, Grindelwald’s ugly aesthetic proves that David Yates and company are no longer interested in lovingly crafting adventures that will be cherished for years to come. There’s sadly little to recommend here to anyone except die hard Potternerds.

Image courtesy of Roadshow Films