Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald is the second installment in the Fantastic Beasts franchise that serves as both a spin off and a prequel to the immensely popular Harry Potter film series. Not being the biggest follower of the Wizarding World I went into Crimes of Grindelwald with very low expectations and was just hoping for a more entertaining two hours than the first movie. One of the major criticisms I had about the first Fantastic Beasts was its very slow moments that took away from the mysticism and the different creatures that helped to make the movie somewhat entertaining.
The cast which some people criticized in the first movie were fine for me and actually helped to keep me invested, especially the casting of Dan Fogler as Jacob Kowalski who was my favorite part of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. For the second installment I felt that the producers learned from the mistakes and callouts from the first movie to deliver…a more entertaining yet, flawed installment that left me with more questions than answers. This time around there were some very note worthy and controversial casting choices made with Jude Law chosen to play a young Albus Dumbledore, and Johnny Depp having more than a cameo as he got to fully become and portray Gellert Grindelwald. Along with those two new additions the rest of the cast from the first movie all reprised their roles as there was more trouble on the horizon for Newt and the different Ministries of Magic.
Unlike the first movie that mostly took place in New York, this time around we got to go all around Europe which made the movie more fun and kept the story moving along in a better pace. Another big problem some people had with the first movie was the lack of references to the bigger Wizarding World, and in Crimes of Grindelwald I felt that they put just a little too much of the bigger world into the movie. Yes, it was amazing to revisit Hogwarts and hear the legendary theme composed by John Williams, but it made what was actually going on in the movie a little bit unimportant for me, as I wanted to see more of Dumbledore. Without spoiling the stakes were raised a little bit higher than the events from the previous movie, but not to the way that I was expecting and it did not really do much for me.
The choices that some characters make are interesting as well as the motivations for those same characters which hardcore fans will enjoy. Just like the first movie if you are not well vested in the lore of Harry Potter and the Wizarding World then some mentions or actions/revelations will not make sense to the casual viewer. There were a handful of times that I was scratching my head because I wanted to really understand what was happening and the movie doesn’t explain it enough in detail to have it make sense to a general audience. This is something the producers need to work on going forward with their next three movies if they want to latch on more casual viewers. The different creatures and magical effects and action sequences were done really well and not all of what was reveled was lost to me, but imagine someone who has NEVER seen a Harry Potter movie? Overall the movie is by no means horrible with some very creative magic sequences and more action than the first movie and very good performances from Johnny Depp, Jude Law, Eddie Redmayne, Ezra Miller and Dan Fogler. But to really appreciate this movie you have to be well vested in the Wizarding World as I was left confused and having trouble with what was going on in some parts. So fans of the Wizarding World rejoice as David Yates delivers another solid entry into the Harry Potter series.