Thursday, November 22, 2018

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

Director: David Yates
Year: 2018
Rating: PG-13
Running Time: 2 hours, 14 minutes

When Grindelwald escapes from prison, he goes on a mission to spread his ideology and rally wizards to his cause. His goal is to find Credence Barebone, who Grindelwald believes is the key to victory in his fight. Albus Dumbledore has asked Newt Scamander to get to Credence and protect him from Grindelwald.

Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald 2018 movie still Eddie Redmayne Katherine Waterston
"You do not seek power or popularity, you simply ask: is a thing right?" (Image Source)
Wizards and no-majs and beasts and potions and daddy issues and sexy Dumbledore, oh my! "Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald" is directed by David Yates, who directed the original "Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them," as well as the last four films in the original "Harry Potter" series. The screenplay is written by J.K. Rowling who, of course, is the writer of all the "Harry Potter" books. Picking up where the first installment in this new series left off, Grindelwald (Johnny Depp) escapes from prison and goes on a quest to track down Credence Barebone (Ezra Miller), who he believes will be the key to victory in the future inevitable conflict between wizards and no-majs/muggles. The Ministry of Magic is also looking for Credence, but they plan to kill him before Grindelwald is able to utilize his powers. Meanwhile, Albus Dumbledore (Jude Law) has asked Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne) to seek out Barebone as well so he can protect him, help him, and keep him away from Grindelwald.
Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald 2018 movie still Jude Law
"Everyone is scared of something." (Image Source)
The Wizarding World of Harry Potter continues to expand considerably outside the walls of Hogwarts and introduces audiences to the extensive history and the myriad of characters that exist in the Potterverse. There are so many characters, in fact, that some people who are not fans of the "Harry Potter" series may lose track of all the names and all the faces. There is a lot, and we mean a lot going on in this movie when it comes to small tangents that are trying to develop some of the side characters that pop up within the story, and motivations for existing characters are also expanded. The main narrative thread, though, is rather simple. Grindelwald, The Ministry of Magic, and Newt Scamander are all searching for Credence Barebone, while Credence searches to find his wizard family roots. Each entity wants Credence for their own purposes: to use him, to save him, or to kill him. He is simply a powerful pawn in their much greater game.

We liked "Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald" for the most part. The visuals are impressive at times, though they still feel the sloppiest they have ever been. Imagination comes to life on full display as more of Newt's magical creature friends pop up here and there, though some feel conveniently used to get him and his gang out of a bind. The costumes are wonderful and have an era-specific magical edge that really sells the late-1920's vibe. Eddie Redmayne has the ability to do some of the goofiest stuff with absolute sincerity, and it leads to some nice moments of both humor and levity. Our biggest complaint in the acting department is that, while they give terrific performances, Jude Law and Ezra Miller just aren't in it enough. We imagined they would be central figures here, but we guess we'll have to wait for the inevitable third film to see more of them. The overall story is much darker this time around, and its tone is comparable to "Goblet of Fire" from the original Harry Potter series.
Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald 2018 movie still Johnny Depp
"Regret is my constant companion. Don't let it become yours." (Image Source)
"Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald" lacks, well, the crimes of Grindelwald, but it still pretty enjoyable and a touch wonderous to boot. It is definitely messier and more bloated than past films in the Potterverse, but it will provide a solid bridge to take us into the third installment of the series. Let's just hope the impending third flick blows everyone out of the water.

My Rating: 6.5/10
BigJ's Rating: 7.5/10
IMDB's Rating: ~7.1/10
RT Rating: ~40%
Do we recommend this movie: Sure, why not?

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