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2016’s Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them was/is the Harry Potter movie I didn’t know I needed. While void of Harry himself, Eddie Redmayne’s Newt Scamander is the reason why the first movie should be held in high regard (in my opinion, a lot of critics disagree). The character is a sweet, timid protagonist that views himself as an outsider. Hero’s that don’t fit into society’s standards are my cup of tea.

And so, here’s hoping that the third entry in the Fantastic Beasts franchise can replicate the first as this second entry, The Crimes of Grindelwald, didn’t hit with me as much as I would’ve liked.

The Crimes of Grindelwald takes place in Paris (among numerous locations) in 1927 with the Wizarding world on edge. Johnny Depp’s Grindelwald is looking to gain power like the type that Voldemort had in the Deathly Hallows movies. Newt, Jacob (Dan Fogler), Tina (Katherine Waterston) and Queenie (Alison Sudol) are forced to reconvene to try and stop these events.

What works in the film, and what makes it charming, is the characters. While it’s messy story wise, I was invested in every one of JK Rowling’s Wizard’s. Newt Scamander is charming as always, Zoë Kravitz’s Leta Lestrange did wonders for Newt’s story while standing on her own, and Jude Law’s Dumbledore captured the essence of the character *magically*. Jude didn’t copy Michael Gambon’s portrayal, but captured the essence of Dumbledore.

In particular, the scenes with Newt and Leta stood out to me as a story that hit gold. The two’s story mainly takes place in Hogwarts, and I got goosebumps every second they were on screen together. Newt was the freak who had no friends, and Leta was in a similar predicament (no spoilers), so it was only natural for them to connect. It was disappointing that their relationship wasn’t explored more as their story deserved more screen time.

Alas, the film will ultimately get an average score from me due to it’s poor/scrambled story. Crimes Of Grindelwald has numerous plots that it’s trying to gather at once, and it can’t handle the pressure. I admire how well it fleshed out its characters, but it destroyed itself doing so. There’s Grindelwald’s story at the forefront (supposedly), but it fails to impress due to limited screen time juggling so many characters.

In a way, this film is Grindelwald’s story, but undeservingly so. His evil plot/scheme/whatever you want to call it is so uninteresting and bland and wasn’t thoroughly explained. At the end of the movie, Depp’s villain delivers this monologue that explains a lot of his motivations, but it felt forced that it didn’t get me to invest. Maybe the next entry in the Franchise will explain why his story wasn’t told in full, and maybe I’ll look like an idiot in 2020 when Part 3 comes out, but for now, I’m underwhelmed.

I like Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald’s characters, but not (most) of its story. It plays to nostalgia surprisingly well in a way that doesn’t feel forced but will disappoint a lot of viewers due to its weak story. The Harry Potter Franchise holds a special place in my film fandom, so I believe I understand what people want in this Franchise. Crimes Of Grindelwald delivers the goods (barely) due to its charm and heartwarming characters.

Final Word