Since the turn of the century, Warner Brothers has blessed about almost every child of the world with a film adaptation based on J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter books from 2001 to 2011, and with a spin-off/prequel to the lore titled Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them in 2016. Two years after that first installment, a second film released in theaters. Suffice it to say, a lot can be said about this new film. However, with positive comments to add to the optimism, constructive criticism still needs to be made. This non-spoiler review analyzes The Crimes of Grindelwald without giving away too much for those who plan to see the film.
For those who have already seen the film and/or do not mind spoilers, we at Geek Motivation also have a spoiler review on the second installment of the Fantastic Beasts series.
I have given it a lot of thought before typing out this review. Unlike my prior reviews on films and television episodes (most of which have been filled with spoilers), I just want to jump right into the discussion. With that said, let’s get at it.
Every now and then, The Crimes of Grindelwald would have odd scenes shot from the first person’s point of view. I was unsure as to whether or not these were deemed necessary. It left me confused and wondering what their purpose was.
Jacob Kowalski’s return to the film sort of defeated and undid the predecessor’s ending i.e. what happens to the character during the rain scene. The first installment brought somewhat of a closure to Kowalski’s subplot, but this second film downright ruins this by bringing him back just for the sake of having him back. Ignoring his story arc from the 2016 film, which involved him starting up a bakeshop business, this movie instead sets him on a different path pertaining to Newt Scamander’s arc, one which could very well have been wrought out without the No-Maj character.
In addition, I also was not too fond of Queenie’s role in the film. It just came out of nowhere, and it did not feel well-written. There was nothing smart about what was done, but I do hope she develops furthermore in future installments.
The Harry Potter films usually introduce new characters as the protagonist’s story progresses and still focuses on its main characters. However, The Crimes of Grindelwald does something different, and this is difficult to balance while concentrating on Scamander’s arc. What it does is bring in new characters such as Leta Lestrange, Nagini (in a human form), Theseus Scamander, a young Albus Dumbledore, and more, some of which have no fulfilled purpose, a lack of development, or depth thereof aside from being present in the film, while others seem to have potentially interesting subplots and yet stray away from the main story. This can quite be confusing to audiences.
Newt Scamander is reunited with Tina Goldstein, and this resumes the love story arc that started in the first film. However, I would not say that is resolved by the final act. Perhaps we will have to see this happen in the next film.
One of the good things this Fantastic Beasts sequel does to audiences–mainly those who grew up with the Harry Potter films–is hit them with nostalgia by briefly bringing them back to Hogwarts and has us wanting more.
A second good aspect of the film is its focus on history. Where to Find Them, which took place in 1926, featured speakeasies, which were a prominent element of the Prohibition Era. The events of The Crimes of Grindelwald transpires a year later and foretells the future of the human world and the wizarding world as well as the imminent threats between them that are to come.
Overall, this film leaves Harry Potter fans with mixed emotions. There are a few awkward lines including the infamous “eyes of a salamander,” and new characters are introduced but are not well-woven into the script. I do hope the third installment–may it come to fruition–can improve upon these mistakes. Simply put, The Crimes of Grindelwald is flat out terrible and could have been done better. The Harry Potter film franchise had a charm to it and the first Fantastic Beasts brought us back to that, but this film proves that magic could run out as time moves forward. It does teach that in light of all the dark things in life, we have to work harder for a brighter future. This film gets a 5 out of 10.
Do you agree? If you have already seen the film, what are your thoughts? Has it been properly resolved by its third act? Let us know!
Written by: John Daniel Tangalin