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November 21, 2018

Fantastic Beast: The Crimes of Grindelwald (2018) --- “The Fate Of One Will Change The Future Of All. Who Will Change The Future?”

Plot Summary
In an effort to thwart Grindelwald's plans of raising pure-blood wizards to rule over all non-magical beings, Albus Dumbledore enlists his former student Newt Scamander, who agrees to help, unaware of the dangers that lie ahead. Lines are drawn as love and loyalty are tested, even among the truest friends and family, in an increasingly divided wizarding world. (1)

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Hello, Movie Buffs! 
     Directed by David Yates and written by J.K. Rowling, Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald (2018) is the sequel film to the Harry Potter spin-off Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (2016) and picks up right where the first film left off. This time Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne), Albus Dumbledore (Jude Law), and co. attempt to take down Grindelwald (Johnny Depp), who has escaped prison and now seeks to rebuild his army of followers once more. And despite a few flaws one has to admit that this is still a worthwhile and exciting watch.
     The Crimes of Grindelwald (2018) fails to establish its own identity due to poor storytelling and pacing. Sure there is plenty of splendor within the special effects, music, and performances, but the narrative is too concerned with what is coming, rather than what is happening. Due to the awkward back and forth between the subplots, the story fails to reach its full potential. Newt’s whimsical and good-natured charm, which grounded the first film, is severely limited; the portions involving a young Dumbledore and a young Grindelwald fail to reach their full potential; and the intricate sections following the mystery behind Credence Barebone (Ezra Miller) true heritage felt a bit lackluster. The other films in the franchise, including the first Fantastic Beasts, manage to tell individual stories with key details relating to an overall narrative throughout one film. As a result, audiences to get a full experience but also know that there is still much more to come, and that is what made the franchise so successful. Unfortunately, this story fails to blend the multiple sub-plots together in a fashion that is expected of this franchise.
     Of course, this does not mean that The Crimes of Grindelwald is a total flop. There are charm and humor present, as well as some great action sequences to excite audiences. While the story can be boring at times, for the most part, it is compelling as it builds to Grindelwald's promised fear-filled rally that is both timely and unsettling. And there is a shocking final twist that I am sure very few saw coming. David Yates directed this film flawlessly and the final battle is better than the first film. However, the screenplay could have been improved, which is shocking since Rowling wrote it. Perhaps, now that some key characters have been introduced and some significant decisions have been made, the next film will be much better.
     The special effects are incredible and help bring the magical Wizarding World to life. From a French statue acting as the magical door between the Muggle world and the Wizarding world to the huge ice-fire dragon near the end. There is also a great deal of detail that goes into ever beast to make them look both magical and believable. The sound and music have also improved since the first film, with a more prominent and fleshed out feeling to it.
     The cast ensemble was wonderful despite some story constrictions and a large number of new characters.  Eddie Redmayne (The Theory of Everything) once more does a charming job as the lead Newt. Although I expected more from Johnny Depp (Murder on the Orient Express) as Grindelwald and Jude Law (Sherlock Holmes 3, Captain Marvel) as Dumbledore since they were in such big roles, I now found them to be quite generous in taking a step back, as they could have easily stolen the show. The way Grindelwald escapes prison and then manipulates and seduces innocent people to his cause is quite the genius; much like Vito Corleone (Marlon Brando) in The Godfather (1972). Much like Michael Gambon, Law is great as Dumbledore. Not only does he bring his own ideas to the character but he also incorporates some of the speech, mannerisms, and expression that we see Gambon use in the Harry Potter series. Dan Folger (The Walking Dead) as Jacob Kowalski, Alison Sudol (The Last Full Measure) as Queenie, Katherine Waterston (The Current War) as Tina, and Ezra Miller (The Flash) as Credence Barebone gave solid and improved performances. The newcomers – Zoë Kravitz (Kin) as Leta Lestrange, Callum Turner (Mobile Homes; Assassin’s Creed) as Theseus Scamander, Claudia Kim (Avengers: Age of Ultron) as Nagini, William Nadylam (Good Funk) as Yusuf Kama, and Poppy Corby-Tuech (The Collection) as Grindelwald’s right-hand Vinda Rosier – gave solid performances, however, I do wish that some got more screen time than others.

      Overall, Fantastic Beasts: the Crimes of Grindelwald (2018) was incredible and expectedly darker than the first film. Although there were times when Rowling’s script struggled with blending all the multiple narratives into one overall narrative, this is still an exciting a worth watching film. The special effects, set designs, costumes, sound, and music were phenomenal. Not to mention the attention to detail given to all the magical beasts was incredible. The cast performances were great despite there were being a large ensemble cast and some story constraints. Was this the best film of all time? No. But there were some incredible aspects, even to the story, that made it a surprising and worthwhile sequel. Perhaps, in the next installment fans will get more of what they were expecting now that characters have been introduced and key decisions have been made. I highly recommend this film.

 “Do you know why I admire you, Newt? You do not seek power. You simply ask, "Is a thing... right?"”

- Albus Dumbledore

Final Vote --- 8.9 of 10 stars

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