Did Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald fail to live up to its magical predecessors?

Fantastic Beasts has cast another spell on the Potterverse
Reviewed by Sophie K.

Fantastic Beasts has breathed new life into the much-loved Harry Potter franchise, though not everyone believes that J.K. Rowling’s magical world needed it. As the old saying goes, “Why mess with a good thing?”

Harry Potter has inspired multiple generations with its expansive, diverse and magical universe. So it’s no surprise that some fans might be concerned about new installments, especially as Hollywood doesn’t have a great record of creating sequels beyond the original book material. However, I think it’s safe to say that having J.K Rowling on as a scriptwriter did satiate some of these fears – at least we know these new offerings should stay true to the original feel of the Potterverse.

The Crimes of Grindelwald, unlike the first Fantastic Beasts film, is centred around lineage, parentage and family secrets. Just as the original Harry Potter films became progressively darker over time, we are seeing a similar pattern develop here. The second Fantastic Beasts installment is significantly darker than its predecessor, taking the franchise away from the spectacular CGI animal musings and on to a more mysterious and sinister subject matter.

Now, the latest film in the Fantastic Beasts series has been criticised for not only having too many characters, but also for having a complicated and ‘messy’ plot. I’d argue that this is an entirely unfair assessment, and that these criticism are actually calling out exactly what made Harry Potter the franchise it is today.

Just looking back at The Philosopher’s Stone, it could have easily been chastised for the same things. We were introduced to a world we knew nothing about, with a massive array of deep characters – that the film tried to explore, when it could – and the start of a very well-planned plotline.

The Crimes of Grindelwald has been set up in a very similar manner. Although, it may be hard for non-Potter fans to keep up with every small detail. It was by far, for me, one of the best Wizarding World films to date. I know this is a big statement, especially given Tom’s criticisms, but this film is taking us somewhere we’ve never been in the Potterverse.

Whilst the first Fantastic Beasts film still clung to incredible, childlike imagery to carry it through, The Crimes of Grindelwald is taking steps towards a much darker side of the universe. One we’ve only ever had glimpses of before. The original rise of Lord Voldemort was a terrifying time for wizards, with people disappearing or dying left, right and centre. But, as the Dark Lord’s reign was ended by his encounter with the one-year-old Harry Potter, we, as an audience, never had the chance to witness these events. For the first time, The Crimes of Grindelwald gives a now older fan-base some insight into the horrors experienced during the rise of one of the darkest wizards of all time.

The Crimes of Grindelwald has opened up the Potterverse in a way that we didn’t think we would get to see, and whilst it may have a few kinks to work out, there is plenty of time to deliver a truly fantastic series, and I cannot wait to see what else this franchise has to offer. If only we didn’t have to wait another two years…


Fantastic Fails and Where to Find Them

Reviewed by Tom H.

We’ve come to expect a lot from our Wizarding World films. With eight Harry Potters and the first Fantastic Beasts under its belt, the cinematic depiction of JK Rowling’s magical world has become one of the most successful and beloved film franchises of all time.
And for good reason. There’s no denying that the Potter films are (for the most part) excellent, and while the first installment in the Fantastic Beasts series left some viewers feeling cold, on the whole, it was well executed and very well received.
Maybe that’s why The Crimes of Grindelwald, the new chapter in the Fantastic Beasts saga, doesn’t live up to its predecessors. Maybe we have simply come to expect too much from these films.
Either way, The Crimes of Grindelwald does have issues.
We were promised the rise of Gellert Grindelwald, a dark wizard as powerful and dangerous as Lord Voldemort, and an exploration of his relationship between Albus Dumbledore, hinted at in the later Harry Potter stories. At the same time, we wanted resolutions to the stories begun in the first Fantastic Beasts outing – the hinted romance between Newt Scamander and American auror, Tina Goldstein, muggle Jacob Kowalski’s relationship with Queenie Goldstein, and the true identity of the obscurial, Credence Barebone.
As if that wasn’t enough to get through, the trailers also teased a potential back-story for Voldemort’s python-turned-horcrux, Nagini, the appearance of philosopher, Nicholas Flamel, and further exploration of Newt’s relationship with Leta Lestrange.
It sounds like a lot to get through, doesn’t it? Too much for a single two-hour sitting, you might say.
Rowling’s script packs a lot of heart and humour, but The Crimes of Grindelwald simply tries to squeeze too much in. We’re given precious little time with each character, and by the end, we’re left feeling completely unmoved by the various different arcs that have unfolded through the film. We’re not given the time we wanted with the characters we came to love the first time around, and we’re given too little time with new additions to the cast, such as Nagini and Theseus Scamander, to really begin to connect and care about them.
Even the film’s grand finale – arguably, the first cliff-hanger in the Harry Potter universe – falls somewhat flat. While it’s surely intended to leave us reeling, clutching the arms of our seats for support and cursing the fact we have to wait two years for the next chapter, I was left instead thinking, “Hold on. Can that really be right…?”
We still have three more Fantastic Beasts installments left to go, and I’ll be here for ever one of them. You can’t shake me off that easily. But while The Crimes of Grindelwald has been bogged down by its sheer amount of detail, I’d like to see more heart and a little more time spent simply reveling in the joy of Rowling’s magical world.

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