Review: Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald (2018)

Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald (2018)

Directed by: David Yates | 134 minutes | adventure, fantasy, family | Actors: Eddie Redmayne, Johnny Depp, Jude Law, Zoë Kravitz, Ezra Miller, Dan Fogler, Katherine Waterstone, Alison Sudol, Claudia Kim, William Nadylam, Callum Turner, Brontis Jodorowsky, Victoria Yeates, Jamie Campbell Bower, Toby Regbo, Thea Lamb , Joshua Shea

‘Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald’ is set about six months after the events of ‘Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them’. Gellert Grindelwald, Dumbledore’s former best comrade, has been imprisoned by MACUSA but must now report to Europe to atone for his atrocities. During the prisoner transport, however, he manages to escape. Not much of a surprise, given that his wizarding abilities can rival that of what has already been called the greatest wizard who ever lived, Dumbledore…

Meanwhile, we also see how Newt Scamander fared after his adventures in the United States. He does his very best to get out of the international travel ban imposed on him, but with the solution the Ministry of Magic gives him, he can’t do much. Not much later, Newt receives an unexpected visit from America: Queenie Goldstein and Jacob Kowalski drop by to share good news, but the joy of being together does not last long. Albus Dumbledore has a task for his former student, which Newt just can’t put down. Or is there another, more romantic, reason for Newt to travel to Paris?

The events in ‘Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald’ follow each other in rapid succession, but as is often the case with sequels in these kinds of films, the storyline is easier to follow than in the first part. Many characters don’t need to be introduced anymore, although the focus is less on the four main characters from the first part – Newt, Tina, Queenie and Jacob – than fans might have hoped. In contrast, the larger part of the story works out well for Leta Lestrange, Credence Barebone, Albus Dumbledore and Gellert Grindelwald. Jude Law is a fantastic addition to the series – the only downside is that we don’t see him enough in the film. With subtle hints to his colleagues who played the older version of Dumbledore, he steals every scene he’s in. Anyone who questions Johnny Depp and his well-known acting ways will be positively surprised by his modest playing in ‘Fantastic Beasts 2’.

Grindelwald is a dark character, and that automatically results in a much more grim atmosphere. Still, it’s hard to abhor him, something that almost came naturally to Voldemort in the ‘Harry Potter’ series. Grindelwald, like Voldemort, has leadership qualities, which he begins to exploit in this second part, by amassing a loyal following. The message he conveys is more understandable than Voldemort’s self-centered goal to become immortal, and the prediction he makes about the future of the world causes goosebumps.

The scenes at Hogwarts – however short – will also make the Harry Potter fan swallow. We take a quick look at Newt and Leta’s childhood, but it’s enough to understand the complex history of these two characters. The references to the Harry Potter books cannot be counted on one hand, so much of this film feels like a knee bend to the fans. There is nothing wrong with that, by the way.

Furthermore, ‘The Crimes of Grindelwald’ is a visual gem. The mythical creatures look amazing, the battles are breathtakingly captured. Also a big compliment to people of design, Paris in the twenties looks very beautiful and convincing and we would like to wander around Newt’s MC Escher-like animal enclosure. There is so much to see in each clip that repeated viewing is certainly not a punishment.

‘Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald’ is a must for Wizarding World fans. With a cliffhanger that will undoubtedly set the tongues on blogs and forums quite loose, the desire for part 3 is greater than the contents of Newt’s iconic briefcase.

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