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

Like it or not, the Wizarding World is here to stay for some time. Join us as we adventure back to familiar places and faces with our newest movie review. We are thrilled to welcome one of our first movie reviewers back to the site — thanks, Scott!


Synopsis

From our pals at iMDB they share that this is the second installment of the “Fantastic Beasts” series set in J.K. Rowling’s Wizarding World featuring the adventures of magizoologist Newt Scamander.

Director: David Yates

Writer: J.K. Rowling

Starring: Eddie Redmayne, Jude Law, Johnny Depp, Zoë Kravitz, Ezra Miller, Dan Fogler, Katherine Waterson, and Alison Sudol

Longtime Fan

Hi this is Scott! I am a self-acknowledged, longtime fan of JK Rowling and of her Wizarding World. I am going to try and keep my middle-mind about this as I offer my  spoiler-free review of Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald.

Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald is a fantastical adventure that will sweep you off your feet from the very first twinkling of the familiar John Williams theme song to the downbeat of the last scene. This latest turn in the fantastic beasts saga is a fast paced romp through the wizarding world — it starts in familiar territories and moves to as-of-yet unexplored territory.

Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald
Jude Law as Dumbledore – Image via CaliforniaToday

A Journey

Our scattered heroes face a familiar foe with a silver tongue who is on a singular mission that threatens the very order of life for everyone. Each of their lives are touched in a unique way. We learn more about each character in this film — who they really are and how they live.

What I loved about this latest journey is all the drama and where this takes each character. I loved how this movie conveys how the decisions made affect each character. I love the new scenery, the new sets, (even rooftops) and all the drama and scope that they bring with them. I like seeing familiar characters I have developed an emotional attachment for try to make sense of what is in front of them and how to react.

Newt and Tina
Newt and Tina — Image via Broadway World

The Cast

The cast did a marvelous job from fan favorites like Eddie Redmayne to new comers like Zoë Kravitz. I have no beef with any of them! Yes, that means I also give a thumbs up to Heavyweight British actor Jude Law taking his first turn as the complex Albus Dumbledore. 

Jude’s presence seemed to actual ground the film in what I felt were necessary ways — no resurrection stone required! We might even notice that this Albus Dumbledore is lacking in some ways that he is not in the Potter series. And this is good because it means that there will also be growth for this character in the next movies.

There are also characters that I’m already deeply invested in and I will continue to watch these movies until their journeys are completed.  I want to know about them and where they end up. 

Lita Lestrange.jpeg
Zoë Kravitz as Lita Lestrange — Image via Collider

Problems in the Film

The pacing of this movie is ridiculous in many spots, if not the entire film.  This was a complaint of the first film as well.  It is quite evident that there is a lot of information that JK Rowling and the producers need to impart on the audience. Yet they do not allow time for the viewer to take it in, think about it, and then use it going forward.

 It’s almost a constant barrage of information that someone new to the Wizarding World might get confunded by.  You must make sure that you pay attention from the beginning of this movie to the end. If you do not key elements that are important and play larger parts further in may escape you. 

Unlike the first installment in this series, this movie is dark, and heartbreaking.  This movie has some dark moments and themes — this may or may not be entirely suitable for
younger children.  There are scenes where death is made to be whimsical. I won’t even get into the scene where our villain meets a child in the wrong place at the wrong time and seals his fate.

creedance and nagini
Creedance and Nagini have a dark story line — Image via The Australian 

Why use Fantastic Beasts?

With a masthead like Fantastic Beasts, you might expect that this story is a continuance of that theme. You will be introduced to some new beasties in the film. You will also learn much more about a very important, old beast in this installment.  However, it’s almost a bait and switch when it comes to this film. This film has entirely other avenues to explore, which is why I question the use of the current encompassing masthead.  

It seems as though JK Rowling is dragging our heroes (and us) through this series and using Fantastic Beasts as a type of sweet candy to tempt us with. I also believe that it’s hard to walk into this movie, as a stand-alone movie, without having seen the first one, and not be lost.  That is in some ways very much reminiscent of the original, first Potter movies.  You had to see them all in order to know what was going on, and that was fine and even accepted.  But for someone who just wandered in accidently or even bought the ticket on a lark, keeping them would be a nearly impossible feat. 

There is no self-contained storyline and it is very clear this will reach out over 5 to
7 installments.  That this storyline will reach that far leaves me to wonder if at some point the story we will hit a plateau? Will the audience be left with sweeping visuals and characters alone to drive oft-explored plot points, or can this series stay fresh?

With the extraordinary talent of JK Rowling, I expect that we are in good hands overall. Still it would be nice to know that this magical world will be smoothed out a bit and find more sure footing in presentation.

Paris
Johnny Depp as Grindelwald — Image via E! Online 

Overall…

I did like this movie.  I think that it has beautiful sweeping visuals and set pieces, an outstanding cast that will only serve to enrich and entice the viewers as the story unfolds in other chapters, and the promise of what is to come.  I also hope that as the stories unfold, the movie-making team reign in the need to throw so much information, and focuses more on character dynamics.

Out of five wands, I give Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindlewald Four Wands.

Cast FBCG
Full Cast — Image via Variety

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Scott is a proud Slytherin and this is his second movie review for ATRP. Scott does work with The 501st Legion. Their last fundraiser presented a $25K to Seattle Children’s Hospital! He lives with his wife in the Seattle area.

 

 

 

 


 

All images were borrowed and owned by someone else! The opinions expressed about Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald are solely of the authors. ATRP is not responsible if you disagree. 

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