2011’s “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2” was the final chapter in the film franchise adapted from one of the most successful book series of all-time. With 5 years between “Hallows: Part 2” and “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” which J.K. Rowling wrote the screenplay for. The script based on at the time a standalone book which she wrote in 2001.
The book (Which I didn’t read) is basically a listing of an assortment of creatures within the Wizarding world. The film takes this element and builds a story around it, placing Eddie Redmayne as the lead who acts as Doctor Dolittle with a wand-Newt Scamander.
Granted “Fantastic Beasts” didn’t make the cash than any of the “Harry Potter” movies it did do one thing “Harry Potter” didn’t it won an Academy Award for Costume Design.
Delving into the plot of “Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald” would take nearly all of the movie’s two-hour, 15-minute runtime. In short, it’s the continuing adventures of Scamander and his small group of pals, who now face the threat of the evil Grindelwald (played by Johnny Depp). It’s the post WWI period. Grindelwald wants to end the peace between the wizards/warlocks and take over the world.
“Crimes of Grindelwald” is a much more serious and complicated handling than the first “Fantastic Beasts” that’s because of Rowling’s overly explanatory and complex script. She even has all the characters stop in their tracks towards the end and explain to each other (and us) what’s going on.
There are plenty of random “Harry Potter” references sprayed within for the die hard fans; plus they don’t just act as fill in’s. This genre is best suited for the 3D format (some of the best 3D since “Avatar” and “Gravity”) not just with its deep and detailed backgrounds and color. When the characters get into tricky situations or are written into a corner, Rowling simply waves her magic wand, the 3D really pops. Since this is a fantastical soap opera, the performances aren’t a high priority. As expected, Depp and Jude Law as a young Dumbledore do the best work. It’s the technical aspects of “Crimes of Grindelwald” that stand out, including the visuals and (once again) Colleen Atwood’s costumes.
The last 20 minutes as expected end with a shocking revelation that set up nicely for the future. But Rowling and comp are going to need to step it up considering how underwhelming this prequel series is doing box office wise and its less than stellar hold on critics especially if they want to push this to a total 5 films.
PG-13 (for some sequences of fantasy action)
REVIEW SCORE/ B-