Fantastic Beasts 2 does pretty OK

The latest installment to take place in the Wizarding World isn’t too dazzling

Photo courtesy of Warner Brothers | Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald is good, according to Katie Nichols, but it just can’t seem to compete with earlier Wizarding World installments — even with a standout performance from Eddie Redmayne.

The epic Wizarding World has made a return with its newest installment, Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald. The film builds on the world established in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, and serves as a prequel to the Harry Potter series. The Crimes of Grindelwald follows Newt Scamander as he races against dark wizard Gellert Grindelwald to find the orphan Credence Barebone.

The most outstanding aspect of the film is the portrayal of Newt Scamander, played by Eddie Redmayne. Scamander is characterized by awkwardness, eccentricity and his strong discomfort around humans. Redmayne has cracked the code on how to perfectly embody Scamander. His subtle personality quirks help the audience get to know Scamander as more than just a character in a movie. It is impossible to ignore the way Scamander speaks as though he is hiding behind his hair or how he consistently purses his lips. Redmayne also incorporates a small stutter when Scamander gets nervous, especially when interacting with his love interest, Tina Goldstein (Katherine Waterston). Redmayne’s portrayal is the most vivid and real part of the film. It feels like he belongs in the world, and transports the audience with him.

The visuals also improve upon the groundwork laid in the first film. It is astounding to see how far visual effects have progressed even from Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, which was released in 2016. The depictions of the beasts are incredible. Every beast is so detailed that they fit right in beside the human actors. There is no feeling of the beasts being out of place, which further captures the audience and gives viewers a sense that they are actually experiencing this extraordinary world of magic.

While the visuals are stunning, the action sequences are a bit lacking. Most of the film feels like it is building up to some great confrontation between the characters, but the desire is never actually fulfilled. The characters do face-off, but the action is dissatisfying. It seems like there is less magic used in battles on screen, opting instead for threatening dialogue. A stronger use of magic is expected from a movie based around wizards.

Another disappointing element of the film is the treatment of Albus Dumbledore. Trailers leading up to the release of the film teased a strong presence from the legendary wizard. It was a letdown when, in actuality, Dumbledore occupies a background role. He pulls the strings behind the scenes but does not get as much screen time as trailers promised.

Even when Dumbledore is on screen, nothing is added to the character that was not already apparent in the original Harry Potter series. He is a noble, powerful wizard, but all else is left open to interpretation. This is undoubtedly a bummer for fans of other Wizarding World films. Hopes were high that The Crimes of Grindelwald would finally confirm unanswered questions about Dumbledore, but this was not the case.

The Crimes of Grindelwald is an enjoyable casual watch, but does not delve much deeper than that. The visual effects add to the fun of the film, as does a brilliant performance by Redmayne. Still, with inadequate action sequences and a very deficient development of Dumbledore, it is hard for The Crimes of Grindelwald to compete with earlier Wizarding World installments.

By: Katie Nichols | Staff Writer