Redbox Review: “Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald” Is An Enjoyable Edition To The Wizarding World

Courtesy of IMDb

“Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald” is the sequel to the 2016 film adaptation of “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them,” and the second of five planned installments. While not the best entry in the Wizarding World of the “Harry Potter” universe, it does make a solid overall second act for the series and an entertaining fantasy prequel on its own merit.

Set in the year 1927, the film follows the further adventures of Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne) as he tracks the fugitive wizard Gellert Grindelwald (Johnny Depp) to Paris; where Grindelwald and other followers of He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named seek to take advantage of a more divided world in the events leading up to World War II. Also in the fray are the shapeshifting serpent Nangini (Claudia Kim) and the “obscurus” Creedence (Ezra Miller), all across an exotic story taking place decades before the birth of Harry Potter.

Amid a runtime of 134 minutes (as well as an extended director’s cut), there is no shortage of impressive visuals and creative fantasy action scenes. The film opens on a midair prison break from a flying carriage and shows off impressive attention to detail in its period setting. On a $200 million budget, many returning crew members from the “Harry Potter” series depict parts of the world that no longer exist and a plethora of otherworldly creatures that never existed at all. The final clash between Scamander and Grindelwald in a Paris opera house easily ranks among the best wizard duels in the series.

Yet, the film isn’t without its flaws. There is a much larger emphasis on setting up future films in the series as much as there is on expanding the story already in progress. Though the desire to use events of the past to explore similar issues of the present is always an interesting idea, the script does get heavy-handed at times. The film is also currently the lowest-performing entry in the series critically and commercially.

Still, the movie shows endless potential to expand on the Wizarding World over its planned story arc of five films overall. There is also persistent talk of other films based on the books “Quidditch Through the Ages” and “The Tales of Beedle the Bard.” The third film in this series will be released in the fall of 2020.

Above all, “Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald” is a flawed, but ultimately enjoyable sequel to the 2016 hit film and a solid chapter in the “Wizarding World” of “Harry Potter.” With Warner Brothers still having the series as one of their major assets along with Lego and DC Comics, let’s hope the next three installments can keep delivering the magic as time goes on.

Verdict: 4 Out of 5 Stars

Review by Steven Pryor

At a Glance:

Starring Eddie Redmayne, Jude Law, Katherine Waterston, Dan Fogler and Johnny Depp with Ezra Miller and Claudia Kim

Directed by David Yates (based on a story by JK Rowling)

Rated PG-13

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