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Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald Review

author: ethan butterfield | a&c editor

Eddie Redmayne is a hunk / Warner Bros.

A fan film for fans

There is something about the Harry Potter universe that is still incredibly magical after all these years. From The Philosophers Stone to Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, there’s never really a dull moment within this whole franchise (well, I could mention a few, but my significant other wouldn’t be too happy). Long story short, Harry Potter is a series of both books and movies that brings out the best in what storytelling has to offer. The sense of wonder that comes along with following witches and wizards is fantastical to its very core. All of the characters are either endearing or sinister, their motivations either ludicrous or completely grounded.  It’s all just so special, and it all holds a special place in the hearts of the fans.
Speaking of fans, they’re certainly going to be excited when it comes to the newest release in the cinematic Wizarding World franchise, Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald. The reason? Because this is a film that’s made for the fans. This is a film that is so chalked full of Easter eggs and references, that you kind of have to watch it twice just to get all of them. That being said, this movie doesn’t alienate newer fans of the series, but newer fans will need to watch the first film to understand any of what’s going on.
Coming from someone like me, though, who has watched all of the films, The Crimes of Grindelwald isn’t nearly as bad as other reviewers want you to believe. It’s a little bit fun, and a little bit sad, and a little bit over-the-top. All in all, it’s got a little something for everyone. You know what it doesn’t have? Consistency with the other films and books. Now, this is something that my loving partner pointed out to me, so she is definitely taking the credit for this section of the review. But, apparently, a number of characters stories don’t line up with the timeline that the movie is set in. Professor McGonigal, for example, is (SPOILERS!) already teaching at Hogwarts during this film when she’s supposed to be in her second year at the school. Not a big issue, mind you, but one certainly worth noting if you’re trying to place events on the timeline.
Moving on to more positive aspects, though, my personal favourite thing about this movie is that the villain (portrayed by Johnny Depp) is done so well! The way that Depp talks in Crimes of Grindelwald is so fitting for the character that he plays. It is so refreshing to see a villain that can talk his way out of problems, rather than one that has to use his wand all the time (*cough* Voldemort *cough*). As well, the look that Grindelwald has is sinister, but it’s also done with a touch of class, so you definitely understand that he’s an elitist without him having to say he’s an elitist, so the costume design and characterization are both really solid!
The other positive thing I wanted to mention about Crimes of Grindelwald is the use of scores or music throughout the film. Like I mentioned in my review of Halloween, the opening theme of this film had my nostalgia going strong right out of the gate. Not only that, though; the use of darker sounds and tones really helped to continue the Fantastic Beasts series move to a darker vibe than the original Harry Potter films had. In the full scope of things, the music in this film really does help it come into its own as a movie, rather than it just being a sequel.
Speaking of sequels, this film does come into its own as a movie, but it’s still very much ‘the second’ of a thing. A second of a thing that there are going to be five of to be exact. Despite this, however, the Crimes of Grindelwald is still worth the watch, especially for the ending scene (which is sure to piss off a fair majority of Potter fans).
All in all, this movie is fine, enough if it does deep it’s hand into the retcon pool a bit too much. Fans of Harry Potter will like it, and I think at this point that’s all that really matters anymore. The spectacle is there, of course, and the wonderous nature of the wizarding world is on full display, but Crimes of Grindelwald is a film for fans. It may not be the best or the worst, but (most) fans will get a kick of this movie. Why? Because Whooo-hooo-hooo, it’s magic! You know! Never believe it’s not so!

About Ethan Butterfield

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