Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald is a 2018 fantasy film directed by David Yates and written by J.K. Rowling. It is the second installment in the Fantastic Beasts series, and the tenth overall in the Wizarding World franchise and is the sequel to Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (2016). It stars Eddie Redmayne, Katherine Waterston, Dan Fogler, Alison Sudol, Ezra Miller, Zoe Kravitz, Callum Tuner, Claudia Kim, Kevin Guthrie, Jude Law and Johnny Depp. Set in 1927, it follows Newt Scamander and Albus Dumbledore as they try to take down the dark wizard Gellert Grindelwald while facing new threats in an even more divided wizarding world.
In 1927, the Magical Congress of the United States (MACUSA) moves the dark wizard Gellert Grindelwald to Europe to stand trial, but he escapes. Three months later, London, Newt Scamander, visits the Ministry of Magic to appeal his international travel ban, and runs into Leta Lestrange, his Hogwarts classmate and the fiance of his older brother Theseus. The Ministry agrees to accept Newt’s request if he helps Theseus find Credence Barebone, who is still alive in Paris, but Newt declines after learning he must work with the cruel bounty hunter Gunnar Grimmson. Albus Dumbledore asks Newt to track down Credence, believing that he is Leta’s long-lost half-brother, Corvus Lestrange V.
Newt is visited by American friends Queenie Goldstein and Jacob Kowalkski, a Muggle, who has regained his memories that were erased the previous year. Newt is disappointed to learn that Queenie’s sister Tina Goldstein is seeing someone after mistakenly believing Newt and Leta were engaged. After Newts lifts the spell, Jacob refuses to marry Queenie, fearing the consequences she would face. Queenie leaves to find Tina, who is looking for Tina in Paris, followed by Newt and Jacob.
In Paris Credence escapes the Circus Arcanus with captive entertainer Nagini, a Maledictus cursed to turn into a snake permanently. Searching for Credence’s birth mother, the find half-elf servant Irma Dugard, who brought him to America for adoption. Grimmson revealed to be a follower of Grindelwald, kills Irma before she can tell who sent her. Tina meets Yusuf Kama, who is also looking for Credence. Newt and Jacob follow Yusuf to Tina, only to find her being held hostage. Yusuf imprisons them, telling them that he made an Unbreakable Vow to kill his half-brother, whom he believes is Credence. Unable to find Tina, an upset Queenie is brought to Grindelwald; knowing her abilities, he lets her leave while brainwashing her into joining him through her desire to marry Jacob.
Newt and Tina invade the Ministry of Magic for documents to confirm Credence’s identity, but are found by Leta and Theseus. Tina and Newt make up after he explains that he was never engaged to Leta. Their search leads them to the Lestrange family tomb, where they find Yusuf confronting Credence and Nagini. Yusuf reveals that he is carrying out his father Mustafa’s wish to seek revenge towards his mother Laurena, who was kidnapped by Corvus Lestrange IV, using the Imperial Curse and died after giving birth to Leta.
The group follow a crowd to a rally for Grindelwald’s followers, where Queenie is attending and Jacob is looking for her. Grindelwald shows a vision of a future global war, and rallies against laws that prohibit them preventing such a tragedy.
This film has the magic that Potter fans enjoy, but the story isn’t nearly as strong as the other ones. The movie has plenty of plot twists, action and fantasy, but feels a lot like one character chasing after another. It is entertaining, but it seems like there is more time spent battling between good and evil than telling the actual story. The special effects, costumes, scenery and music are great. The acting is superb, but the story goes from one thing to the next far too fast, and there isn’t much about the background of the characters. It seems there is more rescuing of other characters than just slowing down and telling of the story.
At times the film seems rushed and some scenes are rather slow, but it is not boring by any means. It is still action packed, filled with thrills, fantasy, superb acting and a fantastic storyline. There are humorous, romantic, shocking and heartwarming scenes as well. Is it as good as the first Fantastic Beasts film or any in the Harry Potter series? No, but it’s not terrible. Perhaps if this movie relied less on its bizarre and wonderful creatures and more on giving audiences the feeling of being transported, it would have been a nearly perfect motion picture like its predecessors.
You have many of the same beloved and hated characters from the first Fantastic Beasts film, but they don’t really change much it seems in this one. Newt is still a smart, quirky magizoologist, Jacob is still in love with Queenie and Grindelwald is still the second of the “Most Dangerous Wizards of All Time.”
All the special effects, action and period costuming and scenery, doesn’t make this film outstanding, but wildly entertaining it still is. 13+ 3.5/5