[MOVIE REVIEW] Fantastic Beasts sequel not as magical as the original


Courtesy of Warner Bros.

Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne) is joined by Albus Dumbledore (Jude Law) in Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald.

Isabel Gisser, Production Manager

J.K. Rowling’s newest installment to the Wizarding World is full to the brim with magic, but the story falls flat. Vibrant 1920s Paris and incredible visual effects make Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald an entertaining watch. However, lovably awkward Newt Scamander and his enchanted suitcase packed with fantastic beasts are overshadowed by a ridiculous amount of complex subplots and new characters. There’s simply not enough time to fully develop each protagonist given their sheer numbers, so their individual motives are confusing and sometimes shallow. And while every character is essentially faced with the choice between good or evil, the journey to that final confrontation is so tangled it’s hard to appreciate the final battle against Grindelwald, the dark wizard that precedes Voldemort in Rowling’s Wizarding World. The film would be much more cohesive as a novel— Rowling’s tried and true medium.

To further confuse viewers, fantasy action scenes, while plentiful and visually stunning, do nothing to further the plot. Essential pieces of the story arc are explained through detailed flashbacks, and additional plot layers are the last thing this movie needs.

As if the plot couldn’t get any messier and difficult to understand, this movie requires a relatively in-depth understanding of J.K. Rowling’s wildly popular Harry Potter series. A major piece of the (many) plots is Albus Dumbledore’s backstory, more specifically his relationship with Grindelwald that is introduced in the 7th book of the series. Consider brushing up on your knowledge of “The Boy Who Lived” before tackling this film.

Even with its many plot shortcomings, The Crimes of Grindelwald has some pieces to love. The film is dotted with subtle nods to the Harry Potter series— viewers can’t help but feel a little nostalgic. However, if you’re not familiar with the original books, these little references will unfortunately fly over your head. Additionally, the characters from the first film remain their charming selves which is enjoyable. But with all of the new players, viewers are left wanting more of Newt and his original accomplices.

Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald currently has the lowest rating of any Harry Potter film or spin-off with a 40% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. For diehard Potter fans, it’s hard to badmouth anything J.K. Rowling puts out, but this film doesn’t quite have the shine of its predecessors.

Rating: ⅗ stars