“Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald” (2018) is the follow up to the enjoyable “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them,” (2016) and tries to recapture the magic with no success.
With this new entry in the franchise, Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne) returns to London to recover the traveling rights he lost in the last film. Meanwhile, Grindelwald (Johnny Depp), a radical terrorist who believes in the superiority of magic users, has escaped from Azkaban prison.
It’s such a shame to see a great franchise dip so low, but this movie does it and makes it look simple in the process. The biggest problem here, and basically where all of the film’s other problems stem from, is the fact that this film is clearly a shameless cash grab.
For instance, there’s a character in this film named Nagini (Claudia Kim), who “Harry Potter” fans would recognize as Voldemort’s pet snake. It feels as though her character was merely inserted for the audience to say “Oh, I remember her!”
This film is filled to the brim with moments like these. The poor plot stumbles due to the film’s constant need to call back to previous entries in the franchise, with inconsistencies between the previous film and this one. Credence (Ezra Miller), who ouright died in the last one, inexplicably returns, his miraculous revival immediately dismissed.
I want to take a brief moment within all of this negativity to share the one basically good thing in this film, which is the acting.
Redmayne shines once again as the meek Newt Scamander, but it is his co-star and sidekick, Jacob Kowalski (Dan Fogler) who once again steals the show. His comedic timing and the fun he clearly has throughout give this movie the soul it desperately needs. Depp is also great in the film, giving Grindelwald a calm but menacing persona that Depp rarely ever gets to play.
It’s such a shame that this movie is so bad. I know that’s a very general statement, but “Harry Potter” was one of the only franchises where all of the films, even the spinoffs, were of a certain high quality. Oh, how the mighty have fallen.