I was forbidden—or in my mom’s words, “strongly discouraged,” from reading Harry Potter when I was an impressionable young girl. A devout Christian, my mother disapproved of me reading the popular series because, in her eyes, it promoted witchcraft. Despite her protestations, I read Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone and guess what? I hated the book and decided I wouldn’t read another entry no matter how much I was ridiculed by friends for not partaking in a piece of literary history. All these years later and I still haven’t read the books (though I have seen all of the movies). As a non-fan, I was unimpressed with the latest installment in the Potterverse, Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald. However, I think diehard fans will enjoy it, especially given that some key revelations are revealed. Unfortunately for us all, these revelations don’t take place until the tail end of a very long movie with very little action.
In Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald, Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne), along with his non-wizard friend Jacob Kowalski (Dan Fogler) and not so secret crush Tina Goldstein (Katherine Waterston), head to Paris hoping to intercept Credence Barebone (Ezra Miller), a powerful wizard, before Grindelwald (Johnny Depp) can persuade him to the dark side. Magic ensues, Albus Dumbledore (Jude Law) makes a few brief appearances, and more is revealed about Credence’s ancestry.
There are more than two dozen characters in Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald, with most of them having little else to do in the movie other than act either frightened or captivated by Grindelwald’s plan for world dominance. As a result, I lost track of how everyone fits into the story. With so many characters on the screen at the same time, it was difficult to hone in on key plot developments or even feel shocked at some of the revelations The Crimes of Grindelwald gives away.
Similar to some of the Harry Potter installments, The Crimes of Grindelwald feels more like a means to an end than a standalone movie that you’ll rewatch years later. With a running time of two hours and fourteen minutes, it spends a little less than two hours building to its conclusion, which albeit is worth the wait. Still, we’re required to suffer through exposition after exposition after exposition until we’re treated to a high stake action-packed scene.
The Crimes of Grindelwald does have its redeeming qualities. Redmayne and Law are particularly charming. Depp’s Grindelwald, which is just a reinvention of his most famous character, Captain Jack Sparrow, is effective enough. And Zoë Kravitz’s performance as Leta Lestrange is heartbreaking. However, it’s J.K. Rowling’s imaginative world-building that I found most enchanting. Rowling, who wrote the script, creates a world where spells and one-of-a-kind creatures seem like a reality, making even the biggest Harry Potter naysayer eat her words.