Edit ModuleEdit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

The 400-Word Review: Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald

While Harry Potter diehards will find more than enough sustenance in the sequel, non-devotees may have a rough time following the action.

Photo courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures.

The Harry Potter diehards will be fine.

“Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald,” the second film in the spinoff series, doubles down on references to its parent franchise, including a few stretches at Hogwarts. Moreover, there is a solid push into mythology with this chapter; we are going deep into who these characters are and, in a boon for Potterheads, how they connect to the tale we know.

For everybody else, “The Crimes of Grindelwald” is going to be rough.

The dark wizard Gellert Grindelwald (Johnny Depp) has been captured, though that’s a momentary setback; while en route to England for his trial, he escapes and spirits away to Paris to recruit followers. Meanwhile, Grindelwald’s old friend Albus Dumbledore (Jude Law) is trying to recruit eccentric-yet-gifted wizard Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne) to the front lines of the growing conflict between Grindelwald and the wizarding world.

And then: A bunch of other stuff. Lots of business about prominent wizarding families. And Queenie (Alison Sudol) and Jacob (Dan Fogler) are back, but can’t legally get married. Oh, and Credence (Ezra Miller), the creepy kid from the first movie, survived, and everyone’s trying to find him because he’s crazy powerful. Also an extended fascism/Holocaust metaphor. And some side-business about the origin of Nagini, the snake from the main franchise, who is ... a human now, actually (Claudia Kim).

Oh, and there are some fantastic beasts. (Not nearly enough.)

“The Crimes of Grindelwald” has an utter train wreck for a plot, jumping from thread to thread with no rhythm but plenty of time to lose the audience, particularly in stretches where neither Hogwarts, nor beasts, nor Queenie nor Jacob are involved. (The latter pair are once again the most appealing characters, save for Law’s excellent take on a young Dumbledore.) There’s no reason at all for non-devotees to get invested — and unlike the first film, which kept the action mostly focused on an immediate and entertaining task, the business of “Crimes of Grindelwald” is largely expository.

That’s a shame, because there is plenty of good about the film; the performances are, by and large, excellent. The design is breathtaking, and David Yates’ direction is admirable. I understand why J.K. Rowling, serving as screenwriter here, wanted to go deep into her own mythology; the series has more than enough fans to support such a decision. The result, though, is a decidedly mediocre film.

My Rating: 5/10

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module

Edit Module Edit ModuleShow TagsEdit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags Edit Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags

The Latest

A New Steel Curtain Is Rising

Will the new Steelers zone at Kennywood Park be ready in time for opening day?

Refucilo Winery Brings a Taste of Argentina to the North Side

Dr. Juan Antonio Lora's passion project is linked to youthful memories.

After Dark Hall of Fame: Spirit

The lauded Lawrenceville hotspot is the latest inductee in the After Dark Hall of Fame.

The 400-Word Review: Us

Jordan Peele's new film is terrifying, essential viewing.

Why These Pittsburgh Brides Said Yes to the … Jumpsuit?

Comfort, mobility and style were all considerations for these brides’ perfect wedding wardrobe.

Pittsburgh Tops the List For First-Time Homebuyers

The report from Bankrate.com touts Pittsburgh’s affordability, job market and culture.

On Trend: Add a Touch of Velvet to Your Decor

Local designers say the fabric can give a room a luxurious feel. Here’s how to incorporate it into your home.

Spring Clean Your Attic at This Reuse Festival

Just in time for Earth Day, local organizations are giving you the opportunity to recycle, learn about sustainability and get rid of unwanted stuff at home.

Dish Osteria Will Reopen This Spring

After a two-year hiatus, Michele and Cindy Savoia's beloved restaurant and bar returns to the South Side.

7 Scenic Day Trips with Spectacular Views

By car, train, bicycle or foot, head outside to take in these unforgettable vistas.

Restaurant Review: LeoGreta is a Gem in the Making

With a few tweaks and a little time to settle in, LeoGreta will be the restaurant we all wish we had in our neighborhood.

The Pittsburgh Pirates' Last World Series

Forty years removed from the Pittsburgh Pirates’ most recent championship, the “We Are Family” Pirates reflect on the myriad differences between their game and the one played on the North Shore today.

Foreign Investment: Pittsburgh's Business with Israel

Pittsburgh has a robust Jewish and Israeli community, with scores of programs, both social and academic, bridging the ocean. The relationship, however, is increasingly about business.

Grandstand Gear: The Ultimate Baseball Scoring Pencil

A Pirates fan says she designed the perfect pencil for keeping score at baseball games — and it’s a hit.

Giving the Little Ones Room to Learn

An expansion at the Western Pennsylvania School for the Deaf will allow the storied institution to better serve the needs of its youngest students.