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‘Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald’ Has More Action and Secrets Than Its Predecessor, But That Doesn’t Make Up for Everything Else – Review

Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne) is back in action in the latest installment of the Fantastic Beasts franchise. Now on a quest separate from tracking and studying magical creatures, Scamander is given a new task – bestowed upon him by none other than Albus Dumbledore (Jude Law). However, will Newt succeed in his latest adventure, or will he end up at a point of no return? Well, you will just have to watch Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald to find out.

When we first revisit Scamander in the new film, he’s pleading with the Ministry of Magic to restore his travel rights. After what happened in the first film, Newt has been closely monitored by the British magical governing body. While awaiting his meeting, he meets his former love, Leta Lestrange (Zoe Kravitz) and his brother, Theseus (Callum Turner). Not wanting to see his brother suffer at the hands of the Ministry, Theseus tells Newt that if he agrees to work with him as an auror for the Ministry, his travel restrictions will be lifted – but he also has to agree on joining his brother in the search for obscurial, Credence Barebone (Ezra Miller). Of course, Newt does not want to become an auror and believes his life’s calling is the magical creatures that exist within the world.

Eddie Redmayne as Newt Scamander and Dan Fogler as Jacob Kowalski in Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald (Courtesy of Warner Bros.)

Of course, even with Newt’s refusal, he still finds himself caught up in Credence’s retrieval when he is summoned to a meeting by his former teacher, Albus Dumbledore (Jude Law). In typical Dumbledore fashion, the powerful wizard decides to send another wizard in to essentially do his dirty work, while he remains teaching at Hogwarts. Still trying to wrap his head around all that he’s experienced in the last few hours, Newt returns home to find his friends Queenie (Alison Sudol) and Jacob (Dan Fogler). Queenie is is trying to get a proposal from her beau. However, when things don’t go as planned, Queenie goes off in search of Tina in Paris. Tina’s on her own mission, doing her best to track down Credence in Paris and when everyone arrives in Paris, that’s where the real adventure begins.

Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald comes from a script penned by the scribe of the Harry Potter series, J.K. Rowling. Whereas the first film mostly focused on Newt’s pursuit of wondrous creatures with a few menacing hints of Grindelwald being added in, the focus of this one was about Grindelwald’s rise, with the ‘true’ heritage of Credence Barebone coming to light. The film was an interesting one and although there were some intense moments, there were a fair few issues with continuity to the original series – specifically in reference to the timeline. Considering that Rowling wrote the script and obviously the previous Harry Potter books, the altered timeline is strange. However, one thing the film does have going for it, is the fact that it is well acted.

The cast of Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald (Courtesy of Warner Bros.)

New additions to the franchise Zoe Kravitz and Callum Turner are great in their respective roles as Leta Lestrange and Theseus Scamander. The only downfall is that I wish I’d been given a chance to see more of them. While we delve into Leta’s back story, we still don’t spend much time with her within the film except when we first meet her and then again toward the end of the film. Leta was one of the most relatable characters in the franchise and yet, she felt utterly underused in this film. I was really hoping to see more of her, and her and Newt together. However, that wasn’t the case and in truth, that left me feeling disappointed. In fact, most of the people of colour in the film did not serve a bigger purpose other than to be complementary to the other characters in the film. This is specifically seen with Claudia Kim as Nagini. The film attempts to set up that the relationship between Kim’s Nagini and Miller’s Credence is important, but it ends up falling flat because yet again, we don’t spend much time with them together.

Directed by David Yates, the film’s biggest missteps are fated in its lack of character development and really, lack of truly investing in any of the newer characters at all (minus Albus Dumbledore), the lack of consistency as it pertains to the timeline (again, as much as I love Minerva McGonagall, how was she a teacher at Hogwarts during this time?!), and its attempt at trying to fit in too much within this one film. It’s meant to be a five film franchise, so this one didn’t need so much to be crammed into a singular film. Perhaps, we will just have to wait and see where the ending will bring us in a new film – but based on the events of this one, I am no longer that invested.

Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald is in theatres now.

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