Movie Review: ‘Grindelwald’ misses mark

Emily J. Sullivan
Staff Writer

“The Crimes of Grindelwald” fills theaters with magic, monsters, 1920s-era glamour and action in a follow-up film to the “Fantastic Beasts” franchise, brought to us by the queen of witchcraft and wizardry herself, J.K. Rowling.

“The Crimes of Grindelwald” brings back Rowling’s alternate universe where wizards tame and care for magical beasts, muggles fall in love with witches and angsty orphans burst into violent black ooze.

While the first film in the franchise had a more structured storyline that lays the foundation for the series, the second film crams so many plots, tangents, character history and drama into the two-hour and some change big screen extravaganza. 

However, one thing still strikes me as incomplete and unfulfilled – Newt Scamander, the film’s socially awkward but sweet protagonist, lacks the lore of a blockbuster hero, or of any well-developed character really. 

The most memorable trait of Scamander, other than his comfort among strange creatures, is his distracting inability to look anyone in the eye. 

The most memorable characters in the film, the ones the audience inevitably falls in love with, are the supporting cast of characters like Queenie, the doll-faced and irresistible mind-reading witch, Leta Lestrange, the sultry and perfectly damaged witch played by Zoe Kravitz, and our favorite “no-mag” baker Jacob Kowalski, who stole our hearts in the first film. 

Even Johnny Depp’s performance as the film’s antagonist, Grindelwald himself, was underwhelming. 

It was a treat, however, to see the young Albus Dumbledore, played by Jude Law, who captured the character’s heart in a satisfying way. 

Much like the “Harry Potter” franchise, the “Fantastic Beasts” franchise seems to grow darker with each film.

While “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” was mostly light-hearted, funny and exciting, “The Crimes of Grindelwald” takes us into a world where evil wreaks havoc on even the most innocent characters.

Fascism fills the underground with rhetoric suggesting “purebloods” should be ruling over all non-magical beings, using fear-tactics to manipulate wizards and witches to turn to the dark side and join Grindelwald’s ranks. 

The film in its entirety seems to serve as one big build-up for the next film in the series, a film that shall not be named, or otherwise known for now as “Fantastic Beasts 3.” 

The film is already set to release in November 2020 and will be the third film in an overall five film series. 

Each film takes place in a different city set in a past era. “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” was set in New York City in the 1920s, while “The Crimes of Grindelwald” was set in Paris, France in the late 1920s. 

“Fantastic Beasts 3” is rumored to be set in Rio de Janeiro in the 1930s. 

One thing we can expect for certain is a visually stunning film in a romantic city, with lovable quirky characters that cast spells and fight duels with a whip of their wands, in a magical world we have all come to know and love. 

Emily J. Sullivan can be reached at

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