Starring: Eddie Redmayne, Katherine Waterston, Jude Law
Director: David Yates
Running Time: 134 mins
Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes Of Grindelwald is a British/American film and the sequel to Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them. With dark forces growing ever stronger, the threat to peace between the Wizarding and non-Wizarding worlds becomes greater by the day, leaving Newt Scamander and his friends to prepare for a fight with immense consequences.
The first Fantastic Beasts film was a wonderfully vibrant and imaginative adventure movie, tying in nicely to the Harry Potter franchise while also establishing itself as a delightful new chapter in the Wizarding world. Its sequel, however, fails to live up to those successes, with an infuriatingly messy and often totally incoherent story that’s paired with dull visuals, slow pacing and rather drab fantasy across the board.
Before I get into that, however, I’ll quickly touch on the few things that The Crimes Of Grindelwald does at least do well, even if it very rarely surpasses its predecessor. For one, it features a couple of good performances that carry over well from the first film, with Eddie Redmayne doing well in the lead role once again, and yet another entertaining and lively turn from Dan Fogler as sidekick Jacob, which adds much needed humour and fun to the mix.
In fact, the film’s humour is often its saving grace. While the majority is frustratingly dull, the moments where things are a little lighter are the few occasions where it really entertains. In that, Jacob’s quips are always fun, while the reappearance of some of Newt’s cute beasts in the briefcase brought a smile to my face on a consistent basis.
With that said, however, The Crimes Of Grindelwald is an otherwise very poor watch. Above all, it really lacks that dazzling vibrancy and blissful sense of wonderment that made the first film such an entertaining watch. In fact, it frustratingly picks up from the previous film’s darker (and worse) final act, and pushes through with a dull, emotionless story throughout that’s plagued with a drab atmosphere at every moment.
At its base, a Fantastic Beasts film should be a simple adventure, and then further depth and intrigue can be built upon that. However, the story here is so jam-packed with fantasy nonsense that it’s nigh on impossible to follow the core adventure, as you’re distracted by Grindelwald’s weird political hate campaign and all manner of backstory to the backstory of the backstory of Harry Potter, at one point randomly travelling back to Hogwarts as well as even getting involved with the sinking of the Titanic.
All in all, The Crimes Of Grindelwald is an absolute mess, and a really rather dull one at that, reminding me clearly of all the problems that Suicide Squad had – a great premise with a heap of characters and action, yet a totally non-sensical and tedious plot that was worsened by drab visuals and a boring atmosphere.
And finally, where JK Rowling’s screenplay tries to offer up a modern, relevant political discourse, it hits that theme way too on the nose for it to prove an entertaining or engrossing element of this fantasy world, instead proving a distracting and often frustrating breakaway back into the real world, which I was very disappointed to see.
Overall, then, Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes Of Grindelwald is a really rather poor sequel. It may have a lot of ideas and a few good moments of humour, but it’s a generally dull and confusing affair throughout, with an incredibly messy screenplay and a overly dark atmosphere, which is why I’m giving it a 6.8.