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Review: ‘Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald’ Falls Short of Fantastic

November 15, 2018Ben MK

Ever since the Harry Potter film franchise came to a close, fans of J.K. Rowling's Wizarding World have been clamoring for further adventures. Now, what began with 2016's Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them continues with Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald.

Set one year after the first movie, we once again follow Magizoologist Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne), as he embarks on what ought to be yet another spellbinding journey. This time around, the story revolves around orphan Credence Barebone (Ezra Miller), who leaves 1927 New York City behind for London, England, where he sets out to find his birth mother and to find out more about who he really is. But little does Credence realize that the evil wizard Gellert Grindelwald (Johnny Depp), who's intent on waging war with all No-Mages, has also traveled across the pond, and that their paths are about to collide.

Tasked with finding Credence before Grindelwald can, Newt must team up with his old friends, Jacob Kowalski (Dan Fogler), Tina Goldstein (Katherine Waterston) and, of course, let's not forget Niffler. Along the way, the quartet also encounter a variety of characters, some of whom may be more familiar to moviegoers than others, including a young Albus Dumbledore (Jude Law), Newt's brother Theseus (Callum Turner), and Callum's fiancée Leta Lestrange (Zoë Kravitz).

Written by Rowling herself, the result ends up getting somewhat lost in its own narrative, however, as returning director David Yates tries nobly but still can't help the film from feeling a little too long-winded and a tad convoluted. Suffice to say, not even a trip to Hogwarts Academy can save what is ultimately a downgrade from the first installment, and one can only hope that the filmmakers learn from this movie's foibles and address them in the inevitable followup.

Make no mistake, though. For Harry Potter fans, Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald might well prove enchanting enough to warrant a trip to the local multiplex, as it does manage to deliver a good deal of fan service. Unfortunately, it's likely only the diehard fans who will get the most out of this sequel, whereas for everyone else this latest journey into Rowling's ever-popular Wizarding World falls short of fantastic.

Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald releases November 16th, 2018 from Warner Bros. Pictures. The film has an MPAA rating of PG-13 for some sequences of fantasy action. Its runtime is 2 hrs. 14 min.

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