If the first Fantastic Beasts film confirmed anything it’s that J.K Rowling and the filmmakers behind the wizarding world desperately want to turn this into a Harry Potter prequel film series. The greatest spell the film cast however, is that it never felt like a true prequel and rather a simple return to a world that has touched the hearts of people all over the world. The Crimes of Grindelwald continues to delve deeper into the wizarding world, but the more the film progresses, the more it starts to tread into classic prequel grounds and while inviting, the magic is considerably weaker than before.
Not only does the film have to reignite our love for the wizarding world, but it also has to make us latch onto characters we care for and Crimes of Grindelwald is very split down the middle, there are characters that are interesting and characters you don’t care for. Let’s focus on the interesting characters starting off with Jude Law as Albus Dumbledore. Pitch perfect casting it made me believe that what I was watching was a much younger Dumbledore. Jude Law’s portrayal is charismatic and appealing especially when the character has to play the role of mentor to Newt. David Yates who is such a trustworthy name in the Harry Potter films does a great job in getting the best performances from his talent.
We’ve been to New York, now we’re off to Paris, I wonder if this is going to be a recurring thing in the Fantastic Beasts series where we hop from one country to another. I’d easily welcome this with open arms as it expands an already expansive world as The Crimes of Grindelwald’s take on a Parisian wizarding world is very imaginative. Fans of the Harry Potter series are going to enjoy the visually stunning world because part of what made this series magical is the eye-candy imagination.
Fans are also going to appreciate all those little easter eggs and references to the Harry Potter films, they are easily a big highlight of the film and can range from magical objects to characters we’ve only heard by name. It was clear for the promotional material of the film that the nostalgia for the Harry Potter films was a vital part of drawing people to seeing it.
And while The Crimes of Grindelwald is great eye-candy, I realized that this was all the film had going for it, everything else the film brought to the table was lacklustre and dull. The story itself, which has to juggle a lot of character and a lot of backstories ends up being this giant convoluted mess to the point where you have no idea where these characters are at. It’s narrative 101 to have a character begin as one person and by the end he/she is different because of what has happened in the narrative, barely any of the characters changed over the course of the story and those who did like Queenie (Alison Sudol) and Leta (Zoë Kravitz) were the ones I felt the most engaged with.
Furthermore, none of these characters, even Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne) who by the way is still very likeable, feel like the main character of the film which may be due to how expansive the world is. With JK Rowling as the screenwriter, you think you’re going to be in safe hands because this is her world, her rules to what is possible. But while she’s telling us all of this information about characters and the world, at the same time her writing has a reluctance to reveal. Throughout, the film is always hinting at future events in this film and the next instalment which is a classic sign of a lazy prequel. It’s too preoccupied about the future that it forgets the importance of the present, give us an interesting story and not torment us into having to see the next film.
Even though I enjoyed the first Fantastic Beasts film, I haven’t been able to be ridden of a nagging thought in my head. I was going to mention it my first Fantastic Beasts review, but I gave it a miss because it kind of made sense in the first film, but now with Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald it feels like the right time, it’s the title of the film itself. Film titles just like names, in general, are important, the title or name of any film is a clue to what it is like. One, there are very few “Fantastic Beasts”, we get a few new additions, but it becomes very clear they don’t play a huge role. Two, Grindelwald barely commits any crimes. If anything (although the film’s antagonist) he’s more of a protester than a criminal. Names are important and it the name doesn’t match the film, chaos will ensue and clearly, exactly this has happened.
No prequel film is ever going to top the Harry Potter, I think that much is clear, but to see how low a vibrant, truly magical world has to sink for the sake of entertainment is immensely disappointing, speaking as someone who cried his eyes out at the end of Deathly Hallows part 2, owns hundreds of pounds worth of Harry Potter merchandise and even once got stopped in the street because someone mistook me for Daniel Radcliffe, I felt Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald not only didn’t match up to the original magic but actually drained some of it down the metaphorical sink.
Final Result: 4/10 – Below Average
Have you seen Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald? What did you think? Please let me know your thoughts and opinions in the comments below.
Next Time: Robin Hood