Potterheads everywhere have waited two years for the second movie from the Harry Potter spin-off series “Fantastic Beasts,” Unfortunately, the wait may have not been worth it. “The Crimes of Grindelwald” is a very polarizing movie. On one hand, the production brings back a sense of nostalgia, as it portrays scenes and characters that the audience may be familiar with, including the beloved Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry as well as details regarding the pasts of fan favorites such as Albus Dumbledore (Jude Law) and Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne).
Photo courtesy of fantasticbeasts.com.
The movie fails in regards to cohesion of the project execution. The movie could have benefited from the reduction of scenes that did not feel necessary to the main story. Many argue that too many subplots both distracted from the purpose of the movie and left many questions unanswered, hindering the development of some major characters.
For a movie that put the name of its main villain in the title, the character himself, Gellert Grindelwald (Johnny Depp), was not featured as much as expected. It seems the production team may build his character more in the following films. However, if this is the case, they could have shifted the focus of the movie towards the more charming parts, perhaps by having the heart of the movie be Scamander’s journey through Hogwarts and his interactions with Dumbledore and Leta Lestrange (Zoe Kravitz). It also could have taken the direction of the relationship between young Grindelwald and Dumbledore. The movie hints at their a possible romantic relationship, and at the very least tight knit one, with Dumbledore also saying that they were “more than brothers.”
Furthermore, casual fans might have found it difficult to understand the references from the previous Harry Potter movies. They alluded to the first movie, “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone,” released back in 2001, including a throwback to the Mirror of Erised (used to show one’s deepest desires) and a physical portrayal of the infamous Nicholas Flamel (Brontis Jodorowsky), who is the immortal alchemist and creator of the Philosopher’s stone. [Editor’s note: the book is known as “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” for American audiences] Casual fans may have missed some cues causing some confusion. In defense, such references did increase appeal to the production.
On the positive side, the acting and character portrayal was brilliant. The casting for the film could not have been more perfect, and every actor fit well into their roles. Depp conveyed a hauntingly amusing version of his character, creating a persuasive villain. Redmayne maintained his Scamander charm from the previous movie and mesmerized fans from all demographics. The introduction of talented South Korean actress Claudia Kim playing Nagini was also a great revelation. Although Kim did not have many lines, her physical cues were exemplary and complementary to her serpent form. However, the most memorable character from the film was undoubtedly Ezra Miller’s portrayal of Credence Barebone. Credence is a very dynamic character who goes through ups and downs the entire journey, with a shocking reveal towards the end. The character is also very relatable to the average teen trying to discover their identity and place in this world. Kudos to Miller for his brilliant execution of Credence.
Overall, the movie was a downgrade from the previous production, but sets up for upcoming content-packed depictions. Had they focused on a certain storyline, critic may have received the movie more favorably; nonetheless, all the unanswered questions create suspense and excitement for the rest of the series, and fans may come back just to witness their favorite characters on the big screen once again.