Review | Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes Of Grindelwald

Thomas embraces the Wizarding World and enrols at Hogwarts for his review of The Crimes of Grindelwald

The Crimes Of Grindelwald is the second chapter in what Warner Bros hopes to be a five-film Fantastic Beasts saga from the Wizarding World franchise. It’s already a huge success debuting number one in the world, earning $253 million including  $191M overseas and $62M in the US. The first one opened with $220M. Once again, David Yates is directing and J.K. Rowling is writing the script. Yates has been directing Wizarding World movies since Harry Potter and The Order Of The Phoenix. He’s the one who has given this franchise the visuals and dynamic it has today so it only makes sense he’s the one directing the Fantastic Beasts movies.

Warning: Spoilers await you beyond this point…

And having Rowling writing them is the best thing that could happen because she can stay true to her vision and tell the story the way she wants it and have exactly what she wants in it. With the Harry Potter movies, a lot of things from the books had been cut otherwise the movies would have been way too long but sometimes, some of the things cut were important in my opinion. But with these new movies, they are not adapted from books, Rowling is directly turning these stories in movies so it’s different. And obviously fans don’t go in with the same expectations because for the first time in this franchise, we don’t know what’s going to happen. Yes, they are prequels so we know that Albus Dumbledore will defeat Gellert Grindelwald in the very end but we don’t know the rest of the story nor how will it happen. So it’s very exciting to get these new stories.

Review | Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes Of Grindelwald

I really liked the first Fantastic Beasts movie. It was a nice adventure taking the time to introduce us to new endearing characters played by great actors. The movie ended with Gellert Grindelwald being captured after it was revealed he had taken the appearance of Percival Graves (played by Colin Farrell). Although Johnny Depp was only seen a few seconds as Grindelwald, it’s with this second chapter that we really get to see him shine in the role. The ending of the first movie set things up for the second and with it a lot of expectations.

The Crimes Of Grindelwald put us right away in a darker atmosphere with the title character escaping in an action-packed scene above New York. It allowed us to see one more time the US Minister of Magic Seraphina Picquery. One character also made a surprising come-back – Abernathy. He made a small appearance in the first movie but in this one, he has a bigger role as one of Grindelwald’s followers. It’s an opening scene that was quite powerful.

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This movie was essentially darker and a lot more ambitious. The first one was very much about Newt’s adventures with Credence’s story growing in the background while this one is much more about the bigger threat that Grindelwald represents along with Credence’s search for truth. Newt Scamander is still the main character but he is taken in a story that is bigger than him and that is out of his hands. I like this turn of events because it’s really an intriguing and interesting story. If I had to sum up the first movie would be about introducing the characters while the second would be setting up the war that is coming.

Review | Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes Of Grindelwald

This second instalment also introduced its share of new characters with Theseus Scamander (Newt’s brother), Leta Lestrange (who was seen in a picture during the first movie, her family name is not unknown as well – Bellatrix Lestrange), Yusuf Kama. Voldemort’s famous snake Nagini was among the new characters, making another connection to the Harry Potter films. Who was Nagini before being this evil character? This movie tells us her story. Nagini wasn’t all evil, she was actually a caring person. She was always a snake in Harry Potter because she was a Maledictus, cursed to remain in this animal form forever. Nicolas Flamel, first mentioned in the Harry Potter films and the one behind The Philosopher Stone, he played a role in a key moment of The Crimes of Grindelwald. And finally a younger version of Albus Dumbledore.

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When we look at all these characters, that’s a lot – 12 important characters. That’s not easy to manage but Rowling’s writing skills were able to manage them in quite a cohesive way, they all have their place in the story and it never feels like it’s too much. Among the new characters, Theseus has to be my favourite. He really grew on me. He’s a nice character who is motivated by love and family and truly devoted to what the good cause. He’s a good Auror, he’s not thirsty for violence. I relate to this character more than Newt even though I really love Newt.

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Both Johnny Depp and Jude Law are perfect in the roles they play. Jude totally gets Dumbledore, when you look at him during the movie, all I could think is HE IS ALBUS DUMBLEDORE! He has everything that makes the character what he is and at the same time brings his own personal touch. He didn’t have a big role but the small scenes he had were truly excellent. As for Johnny Depp, he was able to give us a new type of villain, very different from Voldemort. Grindelwald is controlled, calm, very charming and persuasive and yet very dangerous and scary. The speech he gave at the cemetery was extremely compelling and reflected upon our own world. Grindelwald is a “Donald Trump-like character” but obviously much more menacing and intelligent. This film is very much a mirror for our current society and I love this, it’s a movie that takes a stand, that has a message for our contemporary world and it’s important for a young audience to realize that as they see this movie. While it didn’t go too much into details, the story briefly gave us details about Dumbledore and Grindelwald former romance and why they couldn’t fight each other – they made a blood pact.

Review | Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes Of Grindelwald

In terms of acting, everyone in the cast delivers powerful performances. There’s another actress I’d like to mention – Zoë Kravitz as Leta Lestrange. The scene where she revealed she switched the babies leading to her brother’s death was heartbreaking. She really is a talented actress!

The biggest surprise from the older characters came from Queenie. She took an unexpected turn as she ended up joining Grindelwald, in the end, being seduced by his discourse. She had everything to be seduced by his ideas – living in a world where she couldn’t live freely with the man she loved and Grindelwald offered her freedom. But there’s one big difference between Queenie and the man she loves – Jacob did realize that Grindelwald was evil and all these promises are nothing more but a means to an end to gain followers, a discourse to incite hatred.

Review | Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes Of Grindelwald

So now about the story, the first act essentially set the characters on the road to Paris where the most important part of the movie took place. They did not actually film in Paris, they reconstructed an old Paris in a studio and that was just impressive! The second act was everybody was looking for Credence while Credence was searching for answers about his family. The second act was a lot of dialogue and investigation while always keeping the characters on the move. This act was divided into different storylines that were slowly but surely all going to the same place. I loved that each storyline took the time it needed to tell what it was about. 2h14 long was a good runtime with all that was going on.

Review | Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes Of Grindelwald

The beasts were more background this time around but the Nifflers played a key role in the final act. However, Rowling took time to introduce us to some new fantastic beasts like the Kelpi and the Zoowu. The visual effects team always do a breathtaking job with them!

The third act gathered all the storylines from the second for an epic showdown and what has to be one of the most breathtaking final act for a Wizarding World movie! Grindelwald reunited everyone for a speech preparing for war and asking for allegiance. Queenie, as mentioned before, joined him and Credence who desperately needed answers about who he really was. The second act leads the viewers to believe he was the long-lost Lestrange brother all of that was cleverly plotted by Grindelwald to influence Credence and lead him right to him. Leta eventually revealed that her lost brother was dead and it was her fault, at least she blamed herself for it. This left Yusuf Kama, Leta’s step-brother without purpose as he sought to kill that brother to avenge his father’s death. What I liked about Yusuf was despite ending up with no purpose being there, he decided to join the good side and help Newt and his friends. Yusuf never was a villain but a person driven by revenge. Theseus and the Aurors interfering during the speech only helped Grindelwald turning over the situation in his advantage and making them look like they were the villains, that’s just how manipulative he is.

 

That third act wasn’t without casualties, Leta was an important character who died. In my opinion, she died a hero because after everything that had happened in her life, the suffering, the guilt, she could have joined Grindelwald but no, she stood up against evil and did the right thing. It makes her death even more heartbreaking and is what helps Newt to decide he has to pick a side. That final act had Newt and Theseus finally working together as a family and I’m really looking forward to seeing more of this in the next chapter, it’s a winning team!

Review | Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes Of Grindelwald

Grindelwald and his Protego Diabolica (the blue flames that try to destroy Paris) should give us an idea of what he is capable to do and how powerful he is. His spell actually tried to destroy Paris but Nicolas Flamel and the heroes successfully stopped the blue flames from doing it. That moment was exceptional and visually impressive with an excellent soundtrack. It was one of my favourite moments in the movie. I have to say Flamel was BADASS, seeing how old he was and still being able to fight, I don’t have another word to describe him! All together working as one to stop the flames, just wow!

It’s the very final moments that left me and everyone speechless, who Credence is? Well, that was something even the wildest theories couldn’t have predicted. Credence is actually Albus Dumbledore’s brother – Aurelius Dumbledore. That was a game-changing revelation! I was speechless leaving the cinema and I still am right now writing these words. It’s really good, I love surprises like these, you don’t often find this nowadays in movies. It makes a lot of sense when you think about it why Grindelwald wanted the Obscurus. It was the only powerful thing enough to destroy Dumbledore as he couldn’t fight him because of the blood pact and who else could beat Albus but his long lost brother? And why Albus was so interested in helping Credence, now it all makes sense. Now, my biggest question is when is the third chapter being released?

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James Newton Howard delivered a soundtrack more John Williams-esque than the last Harry Potter movies and I really loved this. But he also brought his own touch and sensibility to the music. Listening to it, you can tell it’s from the Wizarding World, it has that magical and adventurous vibe.

Final Thoughts:

The Crimes of Grindelwald is a dark and ambitious movie with marvellous performances from the cast. Jude Law and Johnny Depp are perfect! Visually breathtaking with an excellent soundtrack. Yates and Rowling have given us another amazing chapter in the Wizarding World. The third act is astonishing, full of surprises including one revelation that will leave you speechless! A must-see!

Fantastic Beasts The Crimes Of Grindelwald is directed by David Yates and written by J.K. Rowling, starring Eddie Redmayne, Katherine Waterston, Ezra Miller, Dan Fogler, Alison Sudol, Zoë Kravitz, Callum Turner, William Nadylman, Claudia Kim with Jude Law and Johnny Depp. The movie is produced by J.K. Rowling, David Heyman, Steve Kloves and Lionel Wigram.

Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald is playing in cinemas everywhere now.

 

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Thomas Storai

Owner and Editor-In-Chief Of The Midi-Chlorian Center and Staff Writer at Future Of The Force. Movie and book lover. Watch too many TV shows.

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