‘Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald’: A Magical Two-Hour Slog

The second installment of J.K. Rowling’s “Fantastic Beasts” series features top-notch action and visual effects, but the bloated run time and myriad of subplots taint its magic


Bryce Shreve, Staff Reporter

It’s hard to deny the cultural significance of the Harry Potter series: books, movies, video games, merchandise and theme park rides all exist in its name. J.K. Rowling is well-aware of this, as “Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald” hits theaters.

Eddie Redmayne plays the lead role of Newt Scamander, with Johnny Depp stepping in as the villain Gellert Grindelwald. The film also stars Ezra Miller, Zoe Kravitz and Jude Law.

“The Crimes of Grindelwald” is a follow-up to 2016’s “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them,” a film that grossed $814 million on a budget of $180 million. You don’t have to be a mathematician to know that a sequel was coming.

Fans of the Potter universe will be satisfied with the newest outing — fantastic magic and action sequences are abound. As a standalone film, “The Crimes of Grindelwald” is better than the first “Fantastic Beasts” film, but its plot is confused, as it seems to be setting the stage for a more cohesive third film.

This film’s structure is one reason I find it slightly better than the first “Fantastic Beasts.” The Harry Potter films had a tried-and-true structure that let each individual narrative flourish, and “The Crimes of Grindelwald” utilizes the structure — not as well as the original films, but better than the first “Fantastic Beasts.”

While the film follows the Potter Narrative Formula, one crime it commits is lacking a strong, central plot. The audience is thrown sub-plot after sub-plot after sub-sub-plot, making the final outcome almost incomprehensible.

In most multi-film series, the middle films are forgettable and only serve to set up the following movie. “The Crimes of Grindelwald” may be a forgettable stepping stone to the next “Fantastic Beasts” film, but it links the series to the Potter-verse well.

Maybe it’s because I’m no Harry Potter fan and I don’t see the charm or the (sorry in advance) magic of “Fantastic Beasts,” or maybe it’s because a two-hour sub-plot-fest isn’t good filmmaking.

“Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald” is no film for muggles, but fans of the Boy Who Lived will be pleased with the visuals and performances throughout.