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For a while now, I've wanted to go to an advance screening of the new Wizarding World film, Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald. And a few days ago, I came across this tweet:
I dropped everything I was doing, and I was able to get a ticket to this Fans First Screening. And ever since I signed up, I've been counting down the days until I'd be able to watch this new film.
The screening was today.
And I watched it, and I really enjoyed it. In fact, I tweeted about my thoughts on the film and the writer, J.K. Rowling, retweeted me. And that's when I collapsed in joy.
So, enough of talking about my experience. Let's delve into the film!
And before I do, I just want to say that there are gonna be no spoilers in this article. This movie hasn't come out yet, and we were told not to reveal what happens in the film, so I'm not gonna reveal anything monumental about the movie.
Here we go!
Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald is an upcoming fantasy film written by J.K. Rowling (author of the Harry Potter books) and directed by David Yates. The movie is a sequel to the 2016 film, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.
It follows zoologist Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne) as he gets enlisted by Hogwarts professor Albus Dumbledore (Jude Law) to help prevent the Wizarding World from falling into catastrophe after the infamous dark wizard, Gellert Grindelwald (Johnny Depp), escapes from prison.
And overall, I really liked this movie. I didn't "love" it because I thought there were some flaws in the film, but I'll talk about those later. First, let's start with the good:
This movie has some incredible scenes. It begins with an incredibly thrilling action sequence that had both smart writing and character development. It was really something to see.
Many other scenes in the movie had me captivated. We returned to Hogwarts in this film, and it was actually pretty emotional getting to see the school back on the big screen.
We also had a really good story in this film. My problem with the first Fantastic Beasts was that the story seemed to jump around a little bit and didn't seem to have a clear focus. This movie had tiny issues, but overall, it was much better and more interesting.
This movie also builds on the original. In this film, Grindelwald begins to gain followers, and our main characters end up having to pick a side: the side of Grindelwald or the side against him.
And it was really interesting to watch, because you'd end up getting very invested in the characters, wondering which side they're gonna end up on. Some of it ended up actually being pretty surprising.
Another thing that really surprised me about this film was the comedy. This movie actually has some pretty funny moments where I laughed out loud. The first one did the same, but this time, almost all of the characters made me laugh at least once. It was pretty unexpected.
I also have to give praise to the performances in this movie. I was a bit apprehensive about the casting of Jude Law as Dumbledore because he didn't have the Irish accent I was so accustomed to hearing with his character in the Harry Potter films, but he actually sold me on it.
Zoë Kravitz was also very good in her role as Leta Lestrange, a character that was pretty complex and damaged. It's hard to tell whether Leta is a good or bad person from the film, and also, Kravitz sold me as a British person.
And that's saying something, because Americans like me generally don't do very convincing British accents. Her's was pretty good, though.
I was also pretty apprehensive about the idea of Johnny Depp portraying Grindelwald. I thought he looked a bit too ridiculous for the part and not very menacing at all.
But I actually liked his performance. I thought he made Grindelwald his own, and he was pretty menacing and villainous in the role. It definitely doesn't feel like any of the characters he's played in the past.
I liked the performances of everyone in this film, and I also enjoyed how they introduced new characters to the franchise. Along with Leta, we also had the additions of Theseus Scamander, Newt's older brother, and Claudia Kim as Nagini, who were both welcome additions to the franchise.
There were also some incredible visual effects in this movie that were mesmerizing. All of the CGI animals looked completely real, and there were just tons of moments where I couldn't look away from the screen and my jaw just dropped from how fantastic the visuals were.
Now, here are some of the flaws of the film: It can be a bit hard to decipher the geography of this movie. There are a few parts where I actually have no idea where the characters are or how they got there, and that was a bit distracting.
There are also a few elements in the film and a few flashback scenes that seemed kind of unnecessary and out of place. For example, there are some pretty long expository scenes dedicated to simply detailing us on the backstories of Leta and Credence. And these scenes just felt very disconnected from the overall story.
At times, I felt like certain parts just didn't need to be in the movie at all. I also wanted a little bit more character development in this film, because Leta was developed very well, but I feel like Credence deserved a bit of a better character arc in this movie.
Newt and Theseus also don't appear to have the best relationship, especially at the start of the film. And not only do I wish Theseus had more backstory, but I also wish that they could have shown us a bit more of why their relationship is slightly bitter.
Some of the character arcs in this film are good, but not all of them. Tina was pretty uninteresting in this movie and I feel like her character could have been developed slightly more in this installment. Instead, she's just Newt's one-dimensional sidekick.
David Yates's directing? I've always had mixed feelings about him as a director. Because there are instances in the film where I'm incredibly impressed by his directing of an action sequence, but there are just a few moments here and there where his framing and composition could have been better.
This movie also contains a really awesome, epic final action scene, and it was incredible. But my problem is, the scene didn't last long enough.
Because in terms of quality, I think the climax of this movie is better than the one in the original, but the one in the first Fantastic Beasts is much longer than the climax of this film. I really wanted the epic climax of this film to be longer than it was.
The inclusion of Nicolas Flamel in this film was also kind of unnecessary. I mean, it was pretty great to see him, but it felt a little too much like fan service and just another way to tie the Fantastic Beasts series with the original Harry Potter books.
And something that I need to clarify is the presence of "Professor McGonagall" in this film. The McGonagall in this film couldn't have been Minerva McGonagall, as she wasn't even born when the events of this film took place, so it had to have been one of her relatives.
I don't think this can be considered a "spoiler" because it's just another little reference to the Potter series. When we find out that there's a Professor McGonagall in this movie, it actually doesn't really matter because it's not the same McGonagall from the books.
Or at least I hope not. Because I don't want the Fantastic Beasts films to be retconning things from Harry Potter.
Overall, this is a pretty good movie. It has several problems here and there, and it's definitely not as good as the Harry Potter series, but it's very fun to watch, and it has some incredible performances and visual effects. It kind of feels like a setup movie for future installments, however.
And I remember some were angry that Dumbledore wouldn't be explicitly gay in this movie. I just want to say that it IS implied in the film. And he doesn't share a scene with Grindelwald, but he will later in the series.
I'm Jonathan Sim, and I give this movie an 8.6/10.
If you want to have some spoiler-free discussions of the film, please tweet me at @TheJonathanSim or @JonathanESim. I reply to both.