By: Anna DeGoede and Ashley Driesbach
Junior Editor-In-Chief and Staff Writer
On November 16, “Fantastic Beasts: Crimes of Grindelwald” premiered on screens across the United States as the second installment of the Fantastic Beasts series. The film follows Newt Scamander and his friends in their attempt to prevent Grindelwald, a dark wizard, from killing Credence, a misunderstood young man. The movie features characters from the first Fantastic Beasts movie, as well as familiar faces from the Harry Potter franchise.
It was entertaining to look for the references to the Harry Potter series. A careful viewer will notice references to the original books, including the movie’s return to Hogwarts and the appearance of Albus Dumbledore, Professor McGonagall and Nicholas Flamel. Even some of the locations and plot points have roots in the familiar Harry Potter stories.
One of the first things to note about the movie is its aesthetic appearance. The filmmakers have clearly made detailed, specific choices about the coloring, scenery, cinematography, and costumes. This attention to detail was evident in the opening scene - a well-thought out, high-speed action chase. Another impressive visual aspect of the film to note was the intricate set design. All of the locations used were unique and featured intriguing magical elements. Some of our personal favorite settings included Newt’s house and the French Ministry of Magic. The special effects, used primarily on the beasts themselves, added to the believability of the wizarding world and created an immersive experience.
The most intriguing part of “Crimes of Grindelwald” was the characters. There were some new characters to get to know, such as Theseus Scamander, Leta Lestrange, Nagini, and Grindelwald. Even though they were just introduced, the new additions were well fleshed-out, three-dimensional characters, all portrayed by talented actors. The returning characters, like Newt, Tina, Jacob, and Queenie, were still dynamic characters. But, like most of the new characters, some of the old characters also could have been used more effectively throughout the story. Many of the character’s story arcs lacked the development that they deserved.
Burdened with the responsibility of setting up future movies, plot became one of the film’s greatest weaknesses. The sheer number of characters and story arcs made the story feel crowded, and, as a result, some relationships, backstories and motivations of the characters felt shaky and out-of-character for the series.
Despite this, we appreciated the film. Since we’re both die-hard Harry Potter fans, we enjoyed the chance to revisit the wizarding world with new characters. As always, the movie was well-cast and had great visual appeal. While the movie does not have the strongest plot, it did effectively establish the conflict for the future Fantastic Beasts movies to come. The average viewer will find their time watching “Fantastic Beasts: Crimes of Grindelwald” to be entertaining and adventurous; hardcore fans will enjoy the movie for its nod to the familiar universe and characters from Harry Potter.
Star Rating: 4/5