“Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald” is the sequel to 2016’s “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.” It follows the continuing adventures of British “magizoologist” Newt Scamander played by Eddie Redmayne, American witch Queenie Goldstein played by Alison Sudol and her Muggle boyfriend Jake Kowalski played by Dan Folger, and her older sister Tina played by Katherine Waterston a member of the Magical Congress of the United States of America.
“Crimes of Grindelwald” made its debut in Paris on November 8, had a wide release on the 16th, and has grossed $465 million. The film had mixed reviews from critics, saying that it had good entertainment value, but also has some cluttered, almost confusing backstories and plot lines.
A year after the events of the first movie, the magical congress of the USA transferred the dark wizard Gellert Grindelwald played by Johnny Depp out of a prison so he could face trial for his crimes in London, England. He manages to escape while en route to Europe. Three months later, Newt appeals to the Ministry of Magic to remove his ban on international travel that was placed on him after his disastrous trip to New York City. They agree, only if he joins the Department of Magical Law Enforcement to find Credence Barebone played by Ezra Miller an abused child who is hiding in Paris, France after he caused lots of trouble in New York. Newt then meets up with Hogwarts Defense Against the Dark Arts professor Albus Dumbledore played by Jude Law.
All five of them head out to Paris to find the kid, which sends the group to a rally held by Grindelwald that encourages wizards and witches to take arms against muggles and that wizards and witches are far superior to muggles. His acts of violence and terror around the world which were based in his beliefs of wizard supremacy, why he's on the run from the law, and it is up to Newt and his colleagues to stop him.
While the film is indeed cluttered with different backstories surrounding different characters, it’s still an interesting look into J.K. Rowling’s "Wizarding World". The most interesting aspect of the film is its fictional connections to real history. The rise of Gellert Grindelwald has been compared to the rise of Adolph Hitler and Grindelwald’s beliefs about Muggles parallel the Nazi beliefs about Jews and other minorities.
The relationship between Dumbledore and Grindelwald could have been interesting but is barely touched upon in the film. Dumbledore’s complicated relationship with Grindelwald, a wizard who wants to get rid of all Muggles, could have made for a very deep moral dilemma that the character faces, especially since it shows that the two characters were very close with each other when they were younger.
While the story setup could be improved in many ways, the setting and music are just as spellbinding as ever. 1920’s Paris is as magical and marvelous as any location in the wizarding world, and the soft lighting really adds a nostalgic touch to the overall scenery. The amber hues complement the enchanting film score by James Newton Howard.
“The Crimes of Grindelwald” isn’t the strongest effort in the “Fantastic Beasts” series, but it does have some unique ideas that the producers hopefully expand on in future installments of the series. While the story certainly has its flaws, the setting, the music and even its themes more than make up for its drawbacks.