I admit I’ve been a little late to the party for this installment of the Harry Potter franchise, so late in fact that I even saw Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald before I saw the first film in this prequel franchise. Perhaps this may also be the reason that I would not agree with all of the bashing that this film got from comparisons from its predecessor. I for one, think that this film is a solid addition to the franchise and did its part as a transition movie to drum up more excitement for the next chapter — the one that would connect the Fantastic Beasts and the Harry Potter franchises into one single continuous universe.
Synopsis: After Gellert Grindewald (Johnny Depp) escapes from the custody of the Ministry of Magic, the ministry tries to stop him from leading a revolution to rally the purebloods to dominate the muggles. While the Ministry hunts down the powerful fugitive, Albus Dumbledore (Jude Law) and his former best friend race to find an Oculus named Credence Barebone (Ezra Miller) whom Grindelwald considers as the last piece of the puzzle to complete his vision for the new world. Meanwhile, Albus seeks the help of Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne) in his quest, banking on the loyalty and skills of his former student in tracking down complicated creatures to find Credence before Grindy does his damage.
I think that director David Yates, who is as familiar with the Harry Potter universe as the back of his hand, did a commendable job in delivering yet another consistent addition to the franchise. Like I said, I have yet to see the first Fantastic Beasts movie so it was also my first time to encounter the eccentric Newt Scamander on screen, who happens to be perfectly portrayed by the talented Eddie Redmayne. I loved how he built the character and his character’s obliviousness to everything except the fantastic beasts he so loves. As a powerful wizard, he really takes for granted what he can accomplish and seeks no glory for his part in wizarding history. This also applies to his relationship with the auror Tina Goldstein (Katherine Waterston), whom he has been pining for for a good long while, I suppose. Newt kind of reminds me of Sheldon Cooper from the Big Bang Theory, only more innocent and less condescending, if he can even be described as such.
Frankly, nothing much really happens in this movie. Perhaps this is the reason why it has been criticized for being less magical than its predecessor. But for me, it did just enough to establish the characters who will play a major role in the third film. Theseus (Callum Turner) said it right. The time has come to pick a side, and it goes for viewers as well. The Crimes of Grindelwald laid out all of the cards so that audiences can see what’s on the table before the epic final battle commences.
So the questions stand: Was I impressed by the cinematography and the direction of this film. I should say so. Would I have wanted Newt to do more than he did in this film? Definitely yes. I was waiting for something epic to happen but was sorely disappointed. Was I intrigued by all the secrecy and what will happen to make Nagini where she in in the Potter saga? Yup. Was I having a field day as I ticked off all of the familiar family names mentioned in this film (most of who ended up as Death Eaters)? That’s a definite affirmative. Am I excited to see how the epic battle between Grindy and Albus will turn out? Heck yeah. Did it have me cursing at the production for ruining JK Rowling’s work. No. (Skip the following sentence if you don’t want to be spoiled) But more importantly, who is Credence? Because I distinctly remember Aberforth being Dumbledore’s only brother.
So all in all, the only crime that Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald committed was hyping up this film so much when it should have been marketed as a transition film. This is also the reason that this powerhouse cast of talented actors seemed like they had nothing much to do in this installment so they shouldn’t get too much flak for doing what the script says. Could Crimes of Grindelwald have amped up the action, or just fleshed out the story just a bit? It definitely could have found better use of its 134 minute running time. But I feel confident that all this frustration will pay off in the connecting chapter. Fingers crossed, fellow Potterheads. Fingers crossed.