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Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald First Reviews: Less Magical than the First

Critics say the film lacks some of the trademark Harry Potter magic, but fans will enjoy it.

by | November 8, 2018 | Comments

Despite having the lowest Tomatometer score (74%) of the Wizarding World (aka Harry Potter) franchise, spinoff prequel Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is still Certified Fresh and the brand has maintained a positive 83% average. Unfortunately, that’s about to take a dip if the first reviews of the sequel Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald are any indication.

With a mixed 55% score out of the gate, the new movie is said to be too convoluted, with too many characters, and all in service of the next movie rather than the installment at hand. Still, if you’re a fan of the franchise, you should be satisfied with all the usual magic, as well as the return of a Professor Dumbledore in younger form.

Here’s what critics are saying about the movie:


How does it compare to the previous film?

A huge step up from the middling Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.
Caryn James, Hollywood Reporter

Rowling has improved upon the first Fantastic Beasts film by fleshing out her characters in a way that’s engaging.
David Griffin, IGN

The Crimes of Grindelwald takes the first installment and improves upon it tenfold.
Ashley Menzel, We Live Entertainment


So far, so good — but there’s a counterpoint?

It’s less a necessary new chapter in this ongoing story than… an affordable multiplex alternative to whisking the whole family off to the Wizarding World area of Universal Studios.
– A.A. Dowd, AV Club

As it turns out, the true crime of Grindelwald was wasting the audience’s time.
– Karen Han, Polygon

[It’s] the noisiest, most rhythmless, and least coherent entry in the Wizarding World saga since Alfonso Cuarón first gave the franchise its sea legs in 2004.
– Andrew Barker, Variety

What always made the Harry Potter films so entrancing was its wonder. But that wonder, once portrayed through the eyes of children, is nowhere to be found.
– Robert Daniels, 812filmreviews


Warner Bros. Pictures
(Photo by Warner Bros. Pictures)

How is the magical spectacle?

There’s nothing particularly impressive about the CGI feats in the film… run-of-the-mill where modern blockbusters are concerned.
Karen Han, Polygon

More so than even the last film…The Crimes of Grindelwald has tons of incredible magic effects, dazzling new sets, and adorable (and terrifying) new beasts.
Germain Lussier, io9


So the beasts are still fantastic?

The beasts are the best thing about the movie.
– Karen Han, Polygon

Mostly, I got the sense that the creators regretted saddling themselves with the animal theme.
– Angie Han, Mashable


But is there too much going on?

The Crimes of Grindelwald throws an awful lot at the screen during this clotted two-hour-plus diversion.
Manohla Dargis, New York Times

There are a lot of moving parts in this film, and too many of them are moving without purpose.
Tasha Robinson, The Verve

Rowling has included so many different characters and sub-plots that the narrative momentum is sometimes lost.
Geoffrey Macnab, The Independent

The Crimes of Grindelwald probably had enough plot to drive a four-hour mini-series.
William Bibbiani, The Wrap


Warner Bros. Pictures
(Photo by Warner Bros. Pictures)

Does it move the franchise forward?

At almost every turn, it weaves in broad strokes created only to set up the next movie… The Crimes of Grindelwald doesn’t care about the movie you are watching.
– Germain Lussier, io9

Just like the first one, it still feels like set-up for bigger pay-offs down the line, without the satisfying cliffhanger qualities of, say, The Empire Strikes Back.
– Ian Freer, Empire Magazine


Will we enjoy the familiar characters?

Our returning heroes feel less familiar than they did when they were introduced in the last film, thanks to a rash of baffling decisions.
– Angie Han, Mashable

When [Newt] is allowed to lead this second story, it’s as whimsical and good-hearted as any in the franchise.
– Kate Erbland, IndieWire

Newt remains one of the most distinctive heroes in blockbuster cinema.
– William Bibbiani, The Wrap

The best of the bunch, once again, is the illicit muggle-mage coupling of Jacob and Queenie, who burst into the film’s early stages like an enchanted Tim Curry and Bernadette Peters.
– Andrew Barker, Variety

Queenie and Jacob often seem to be starring in a different, potentially more interesting movie.
– Justin Chang, Los Angeles Times


Warner Bros. Pictures
(Photo by Warner Bros. Pictures)

Are there any great newcomers?

Of the newer characters, the only real standout is Leta Lestrange, played by the effortlessly compelling Zoe Kravitz.
– Angie Han, Mashable

Zoë Kravitz as Leta is pretty fantastic and I love where they go with her character in the film.
– Ashley Menzel, We Live Entertainment


How is Jude Law as Dumbledore?

Jude Law captures the quick wit, easy charm and cloying inscrutability of the character.
– William Bibbiani, The Wrap

Wisely, Law doesn’t try to channel Michael Gambon or Richard Harris… he gives the character the calm, warmth and understanding that has made him such a beloved figure.
– Caryn James, Hollywood Reporter


Is Johnny Depp a problem?

For all of the controversy surrounding Johnny Depp’s casting, it’s strange just how underutilized he is.
– Eric Eisenberg, Cinema Blend

Depp is also supremely average as Grindewald. He simply mails it in.
– Robert Daniels, 812filmreviews

Johnny Depp is instantly captivating as the titular villain and damn creepy, too.
– David Griffin, IGN

His portrayal of Grindelwald rekindles memories of his old mentor, Vincent Price.
– Geoffrey Macnab, The Independent

Johnny Depp is fine, if you can forget about his ugly personal life.
– Angie Han, Mashable


Warner Bros. Pictures

Is this movie just for the fans?

It’s a movie built special for aficionados of the Wizarding World.
– Eric Eisenberg, Cinema Blend

It’s hard to imagine anyone but hardcore Potterheads getting emotionally involved in this film’s convoluted plotting and ancestral reveals.
– Tasha Robinson, The Verve

Rowling seems to be playing to the fans in the thinnest way possible, building in stories that require foreknowledge to appreciate them fully.
– Kate Erbland, IndieWire

The Crimes of Grindelwald is enough to make J.K. Rowling fans weep in frustration, provided they can even keep their eyes open.
– Justin Chang, Los Angeles Times


Will we walk out anticipating part three?

The twisty plot leads to an explosive climax…including a jaw-dropper for the Potter faithful that’ll have them clamoring for the threequel.
– Brian Truitt, USA Today

The Crimes of Grindelwald is rich and intriguing fare that will leave viewers impatient for the next sequel.
– Geoffrey Macnab, The Independent

It’s hard not to worry about the franchise heading in a similar direction.
– Andrew Barker, Variety


Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald opens everywhere on Friday, November 16. Read all the reviews for it here.

#1
Adjusted Score: 51.058%
Critics Consensus: Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald has glimmers of the magic familiar to Harry Potter fans, but the story's spell isn't as strong as earlier installments.
Synopsis: At the end of the first film, the powerful Dark wizard Gellert Grindelwald (Depp) was captured by MACUSA (Magical Congress... [More]
Directed By: David Yates (II)

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