The sequel to FANTASTIC BEASTS AND WHERE TO FIND THEM and the prequel to the HARRY POTTER movies, THE CRIMES OF GRINDELWALD sees the entire original cast here performing more of the same, or in other words, marking time with nothing really to show for it.
The film continues where the first film ends. The powerful dark wizard Gellert Grindelwald (Johnny Depp) was captured by MACUSA (Magical Congress of the United States of America), with the help of Newt Scamander (Oscar Winner Eddie Redmayne). But, making good on his threat, Grindelwald escapes custody again and has set about gathering followers, most unsuspecting of his true agenda: to raise pure-blood wizards and witches up to rule over all non-magical beings.
The film’s best sequence is the beginning with Grindelwald’s (Johnny Depp) escape from jail custody. Still, the action sequence is confusing with too many blurry special and CGI effects. It sets up the beginning of events Grindelwald sets up to gain power and hopefully destroy human beings.
It is best to get familiar with all the characters in the story before heading out to see the film, as it gets confusing and confusing very fast. First and foremost is the main character, Newt.
Newt is a British Ministry of Magic employee in the Beasts Division of the Department for the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures, as well as a self-proclaimed magizoologist. This explains his suitcase containing all his magical creatures. The creatures are cute-weird to look at, but they do not do much to propel the story, except to provide a few of the lighter moments, which can lead to boredom fast. He played a part in remedying the events of a violent attack on the City of New York in December 1926 (the time when the film opens) involving dark wizard Gellert Grindelwald. He is a confidante of Albus Dumbledore (Jude Law), despite being an outcast from certain circles of British Wizarding society due to his checkered past.
Newt’s on and off romantic interest is Tina Goldstein (Katherine Waterson), a promoted MACUSA (Magical Congress of the United States of America) Auror. Thankfully, the romance is kept to a minimum with hardly any face sucking. One of the story’s most interesting written characters is Creedance, the disturbed adopted child of Mary-Lou Barebone, violently abused and downtrodden. Enraged by people’s treatment of him and Grindelwald’s betrayal, he set his Obscurus parasite loose on the City of New York. Menacingly portrayed by Ezra Miller (WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT KEVIN), Creedance is one character one wishes had more screen time. On the other end of the spectrum, the most annoying character is the plumpish and goofy baker, Jacob Kowalski (Dan Fogler). Thankfully, he is given less to do than in the first film. His romance with Queenie (Alison Sudol) undergoes some tests in the film.
The film has a period setting of Paris and London and the film looks great, courtesy of cinematographer Philippe Rousselot. At least, he knows what to do with the $200 million production cost. Special effects are equally stunning. But the problems of confused storytelling, muddled twists and turns and too many characters to keep track of, lead to an irrelevant and boring middle FANTASTIC BEASTS film, preparing for the next instalment.