I enjoyed the first Fantastic Beasts movie. So if you and I are already at odds about that, then you might not want to trust my thoughts on the second one. You can check out my review of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them here.
I’m also aware that Fantastic Beasts: Crimes of Grindelwald is getting a little hammered by negative critic reviews. I truly don’t understand it. I’m going to just unashamedly tell you right now, I loved Crimes of Grindelwald from start to finish and I plan to go see it at the movies again. I also want to make it clear that I don’t really care about all the plot details making perfect sense in relation to Harry Potter canon – I love all the references and easter eggs (obviously), but I’m still able to enjoy Fantastic Beasts as a separate entity.
Now that you know where I stand and have accepted me (I hope), I am ready to continue baring my soul to you.
It was easy to tell that Fantastic Beasts was aiming for a slightly older audience than Harry Potter. It still had a lot of humour, charmingness (a real word – according to me) and lovable characters in it, but they sometimes felt quite jarring, in among all the heavier themes. Right from the opening sequence it’s obvious that The Crimes of Grindelwald is going to be a whole lot darker than it’s predecessor. It makes Harry Potter feel like pure ‘kids stuff’ and is an opportunity to see that same world through the experiences of older characters who are better equipped to deal with (and deliver) heavier content. I don’t want to spoil anything, but the film may cross some lines for people who struggle with negative things happening to babies/toddlers (as a relatively new first-time Mum, a couple of scenes were a little difficult to sit through). Nothing, however, feels gratuitous and the content I’m referring to definitely gives more weight to circumstances surrounded certain characters (am I being vague enough? XD).
Voldemort seems slightly cartoonish when stacked up against Johnny Depp’s all-too-plausible antagonist, Grindelwald. Even though controversy surrounded his casting in the role, Depp does seem like a good choice for the character. Despite his alarming appearance, he maintains an inexplicable appeal that Johnny Depp has become a master at over his career. Grindelwald’s name may be in the title of the film, but I don’t feel like you really get a good look at who he is this time around, and I really look forward to learning more about him and his motivations. Johnny Depp, however, is not the stand out. Not even close.
You’ll hear it from a lot of people, and it’s true – Jude Law is the perfect young Dumbledore. Is it the cheeky twinkle in his eye that make him the perfect fit? His posture? His unreadable expressions? I really couldn’t tell you why he’s so ‘right’. You just need to see it for yourself and then you need to agree with me. Or else. Of course, the old crew is back, and Eddie Redmayne is as delightfully awkward and FREAKIN’ ADORABLE as ever. Newt Scamander has a slightly different vibe this time round. In the first Fantastic Beasts film I found myself swinging rapidly from finding him insanely charming to mildly irritating. In The Crimes of Grindelwald he never once irritated me on any level. However, this could be entirely dependent on my mood at the time of viewing it. It feels like Eddie Redmayne has developed a deeper understanding of the character and he has some of the most satisfying character development in the film.
The beautiful Queenie Goldstein (Alison Sudol) and lovable regular-bloke Jacob Kowalski (Dan Fogler) are back for some VERY memorable moments. I cannot wait to see what J.K Rowling has planned for them in future installments. Katherine Waterston as Tina Goldstein (crazy Queenie’s sensible sister), is somehow sidelined a bit in this movie. Her character feels very much like she’s there to serve the ‘love interest’ role – which wasn’t the case in the first film and could be to do with the focus shifting to some new additions to the lineup. Ezra Miller is back as Credence Barebone, but this time he’s accompanied by a beautiful witch played by Claudia Kim (aka Nagini. Yes, as in Voldemort’s pet snake). Zoe Kravitz brings Leta Lestrange (Newt’s old flame) to life and sheeesh…she’s a babe. The dynamic between her and Newt was absolutely captivating. Theseus Scamander (Callum Turner) is introduced as Newt’s brother and Leta’s fiance. Turner is brilliantly cast in the role and even though he doesn’t have enough of an opportunity to really shine in The Crimes of Grindelvald – there is the promise of a blossoming future bromance between him and Newt. In fact, even with the short amount of screen time it was given, the relationship between Newt, Leta and Theseus felt just as real, well-developed and complex as the friendship between Harry, Ron and Hermione in the later Harry Potter installments.
And of course, the film is filled with Fantastic Beasts! There’s the old favourites like the naughty Niffler and Pickett the Bowtruckle, but the whole movie is littered with wonderful new discoveries that I won’t spoil for you now. I’m confident you’ll adore at least one of them. Overall The Crimes of Grindelwald kicks the use of magic and special FX up several notches. Despite what other people might say, I found it to be an exhilarating and spellbinding experience from the opening moments and throughout the entirety of it’s 2 hours and 14 minutes!