“Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald,” the sequel to “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them,” created a lot of excitement for Harry Potter fans in the months leading to the its premiere. Even though the events takes place separately from the main series, most people still refer to it as the newest Harry Potter movie. I am a huge fan of the franchise myself, but the Fantastic Beasts sequel threw a lot at the screen for two and a half hours. The author of the Harry Potter series, J.K. Rowling wrote the screenplay for this film, as well as the first “Fantastic Beasts;” Either her writing is getting a little bit predictable or the production company is paying her a lot of money to put in plenty of action scenes.
Do not get me wrong, there is a clear storyline that advances from the first movie and this movie was extremely entertaining and enjoyable. Blockbuster movies these days just follow such a predictable plot in that they typically just build up to a climactic fight scene at the end. The movie follows Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne), a “magizoologist,” who rescues and aids different magical creatures. The sequel picks up at the endpoint of the first film which takes place in the mid 1920s in New York City. Rowling’s version of the 1920s has amazing set design that is insanely detailed. “Crimes of Grindelwald” is a lot darker in comparison to the first movie. Jude Law plays a young Albus Dumbledore, a well known character in the Harry Potter books and films, and all he did in the film was walk around and teach a class. The film follows a big, bad villain before Voldemort’s time during the Harry Potter series. Gellert Grindelwald (Johnny Depp) is trying to build up his power and has big plans to create a world “more equal” among muggles and wizards.
Depp, being the huge movie star he is, does not bring anything new to the antagonist he is playing. In the first film, Colin Farrell played Grindelwald who was a lot more intriguing to watch and is known for his dark comedic roles. The biggest problem with these movies has been the casting; they are trying to deliver what the Harry Potter movies did. Redmayne is interesting to watch but something is clearly lacking. That might just be due to the writing and odd potholes that appear in the film. “Crimes of Grindelwald” seems to hint at some ideas of fascism and totalitarianism since it is set right before World War II. While it would be nice to explore these ideas more in the third film, it should be more for depth rather than just visual stimulation.
This being the second installment of a five part series, there is time for plenty of improvement. The movies could continue to lack emotional depth if no improvement is made. What made the Harry Potter films more emotionally stimulating amongst the audience was how the characters had depth to them. The actors in those films had seemingly better acting skills and more connection to the story. Also, they had overall themes of love with friends and family.
“Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald” tried to put in some of that but it fell flat. Production teams have so much potential story material to use in this world Rowling created. It is a shame that this sequel lacks emotional depth.