After Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them began to set up the story for the Harry Potter prequel films in an efficient manner, The Crimes of Grindelwald has attempted to carry that on with little success.
With David Yates returning to direct after helming the original Fantastic Beasts, the overall production values are stellar once again. Wonderful visual effects, cinematography and gloomy use of lighting reflects the darker tone of the film, making it easy on the eye to watch. However, it is J.K Rowling’s script where most of the problems of the film lie.
The main issue is that the script is rather aimless. It flits between three different storylines unable to truly decide which to give greater impetus. There are also issues with how the motivations of certain characters change seemingly in the blink of an eye, as well as how plot conveniences ruin the immersion (there is a rather lazy explanation of how Jacob Kowalksi is reintroduced into the story after the events of the first film). Laziness in the script also extends towards the final act. It becomes exposition-laden in an attempt to bring some cohesion between the different storylines which isn’t executed effectively.
The stars: both beast and human
On a more positive note, the acting on a whole is quite assured. In particular, from Jude Law as a younger Albus Dumbledore who fits into the role very smoothly. Meanwhile, Eddie Redmayne is as awkward and charming as ever as Newt Scamander, whilst Katherine Waterston and Dan Fogler bring their characters to life effectively once again. The only criticism of the acting comes from Johnny Depp as Grindelwald himself, who is surprisingly very bland. Depp admittedly does not have much to work with due to an average script, but even in scenes where he is giving supposedly captivating speeches he is unengaging.
Also a note must be made on the ‘Beasts’ that either return or are new to the series. Once again, they are brought to life superbly with great visual effects. Whilst they don’t significantly impact the story too much this actually works in the film’s favour. The plot remains undistracted by these mystical beasts.
Overall, Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald is a disappointing follow-up to the original film. It chooses to focus on setting events up for later films in the series, rather than trying to be an effective story in its own right.