Claudio Says The Crimes of Grindelwald doubled down on the good and bad of original movie.

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A couple years after the original Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, Newt Scamander is back with another bag full of troublesome looking platypus creatures, but he’s bringing the same baggage from the previous film. The Crimes of Grindelwald already had the controversy of Johnny Depp’s casting looming over it, but with the lukewarm reaction to its predecessor, it had a lot to prove. The film is championed by Eddie Redmayne as Newt Scamander and features Jude Law as a younger Dumbledore; these two performers are really the saving grace of the movie.  David Yates returns as director with a script by J.K. Rowling, who will be referred to in this review as “Drowsy Rowly.” The real crime wasn’t at the hands of Grindelwald…but exposition itself.

So the reason I’m making Drowsy Rowly a thing is because it really seems like she took the phrase “I can do this in my sleep” too literal, because she definitely took some nyquil and knocked out writing the second half of the script. The biggest detriment to this movie was the introduction of all these side plots that had no real build up and were just mentioned in conversation out of nowhere. Many characters were separated from each other to develop these side plots and the eventual bringing together of the cast felt rushed and unearned. It just happened. Flashbacks also introduced deeper elements to the mythos of this world, but the “explain-o vision” of the final act ,where characters straight up cast exposition spells on the audience, leaves all of that feeling hollow.

It’s not all doom and gloom as the first half of the film doubles down on the charm that the other Harry Potter films brought. Redmayne’s Newt is coming out of his shell more as a result of the events of the first movie and has gained great notoriety. The mentorship relationship he shares with Dumbledore is really the only plot point that had a proper reveal. It really made me want to see more of Dumbledore; but seeing as this is a franchise, I’m sure he’ll be around for a big action set piece. I don’t really feel the need to talk about the other characters because, ultimately, I didn’t see any major strides done with them…ones that made sense at least. Johnny Depp’s interpretation of Grindelwald left much to be desired when you compare him to Ralph Fiennes’ Voldemort (whoops, I said it). While an unfair comparison, the character itself didn’t really do anything and I can’t imagine this being a role that 25 other actors couldn’t play as it was one dimensional.

The world building stands alone as the best part of this and anything Harry Potter related. The few beasts that were introduced are absolutely delightful and make the film feel so loose. It’s the uneven story plots that weighs it down. There were moments that I legitimately thought they forgot to include a clip with. Moments that reveal further world building are also boggled down by the inaccessibility of the script. While I’m not the biggest Harry Potter fan, I’ve seen the movies and remember a good amount from them, but moments in this film were too dependent on whether you remember deep story plots from a different franchise. With the nose dive the movie took in the second half along with the inaccessibility presented by the script, I can’t recommend you charge your shopping cart down platform nine and three quarters for this adventure…unless it’s to crush this movie to death.

Final Word