‘Fantastic Beasts’ franchise continues in spellbinding sequel


Warner Bros.

The “Fantastic Beasts: Crimes of Grindelwald” cast poses for a picture in their characters to advertise the release of their newest movie. This movie continues the narrative that began with “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” and brings back all of the fan-favorite characters for an intense continuation of the story.

Sophia Bender, Staff Writer

Decades before Voldemort, the most feared wizard in the Wizarding World, was Gellert Grindelwald. As the “Fantastic Beasts” franchise continues into its second film, this wizard is ready to do whatever it takes to achieve his ultimate goal — unlimited power.

Many have tried and many have failed miserably, but “Fantastic Beasts: Crimes of Grindelwald” is a movie that carries the torch perfectly.

— Staff Writer Sophia Bender

There’s a risk writers and directors take when making a sequel, especially if the movie they are following up was popular and critically successful. There are always questions of the movie living up to its predecessor or continuing the story in a way that makes sense. Many have tried and many have failed miserably, but “Fantastic Beasts: Crimes of Grindelwald” is a movie that carries the torch perfectly.

Two years ago, “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” left audiences with most questions answered and the film’s major loose ends tied up. For the casual viewer, the movie could very well be watched as a stand-alone. The villainous wizard Grindlewald (Johnny Depp) was captured and monster expert Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne) was headed back home to England. However, true “Harry Potter” fans knew that the story was far from over.

Several months after the incidents that took place in 1920s New York, beloved magizoologist Newt Scamander is back in England and has been banned from international travel by the British Ministry of Magic. He longs to be able to travel again, but British Aurors (the magical police) won’t allow it. There is increasing pressure from former teacher Albus Dumbledore as well as his brother to choose a side for the inevitable magical war that is coming following Grindelwald’s escape from prison in America. Newt would much rather continue the care of his magical creatures then have anything to do with the war. However, throughout the course of the movie, our reluctant hero must learn to step up to the plate and find his place in the brewing turmoil.

This movie was brilliantly executed. It succeeded in doing a very difficult thing: setting up the next story while also telling its own story. This isn’t the last audiences will see of Newt Scamander. The movie is the second of five that will tell the whole story of this amazing magizoologist and his place in the war against the powerful wizard Grindelwald. “Crimes of Grindelwald” was excellent because of how it tied into the big picture of the planned series. It connected well with the first movie, told an entertaining story within itself, and set up the next movie with an agonizing cliffhanger.

Many well-known movie franchises have failed to connect all their movies in the way that the “Fantastic Beasts” series has done so far. Most movies that try to do this spend too much time building up to the next movie and not enough time focusing on the story they are trying to tell. “Crimes” doesn’t fall into this trap and that’s what really makes the movie.

Even with its place in the overarching narrative, “Crimes” makes for an entertaining and thought-provoking movie all by itself. Our favorite (and maybe not so favorite) characters are back including Queenie and Tina Goldstein (Alison Sudol and Katherine Waterston respectively), Jacob Kowalski (Dan Fogler), Credence Barebone (Ezra Miller) and Gellert Grindelwald. Some new characters are also introduced such as Nagini Claudia Kim), a young Albus Dumbledore (Jude Law), Leta Lestrange (Zoё Kravitz), and Newt’s own brother Theseus (Callum Turner). Each character plays an important role in the movie and each actor has bunches of talent to bring to the table.

People who are fans of Dumbledore from the original story won’t be let down either. Dumbledore is just as clever and powerful as he has been.

— Staff Writer Sophia Bender

As before, Eddie Redmayne plays an excellent Newt Scamander. Everything Redmayne does with his mannerisms and the delivery of his lines perfectly represents Newt’s shy and awkward character. I was pleasantly surprised to notice that he even manages to perfectly capture his character’s social anxiety with slight stuttering and avoiding eye contact. It’s always amazing to see actors capturing the flaws and nuances of their characters.

A new addition to the cast of the franchise is Jude Law, who plays a young Dumbledore. This fresh look at Dumbledore’s character really was able to let viewers learn more than ever about this man and his mysterious past. As a fan of the original book series, I have many reservations about Dumbledore and his actions. However, Jude Law’s performance gives a whole new look at his character and helped me to like the character a bit more. People who are fans of Dumbledore from the original story won’t be let down either. Dumbledore is just as clever and powerful as he has been.

While many aspects of “Crimes” are similar to its predecessor, one huge change between the two movies is the tone. “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” was mostly light-hearted and humorous despite some dark moments. The antics of Newt’s creatures such as the Niffler and Pickett the Bowtruckle gave a very warm, family-friendly vibe that many people enjoyed. However, “Crimes” is much darker, focusing on the villainous Grindelwald and his ever-rising following.

It isn’t unnecessarily dark — a war is coming to the wizarding world and the tone shift is needed to fit the plot. This change was hinted at in the first movie, but it necessarily escalates in “Crimes.” That’s not to say the movie doesn’t have its lighter moments. There are more than enough laugh-out-loud moments to balance out the darker tone. The niffler and pickett are back and funnier than ever and the lovingly laughable Jacob Kowalski makes the movie just as funny as the first. It’s darker, but not enough to ruin the family-friendly atmosphere of the series.

The writers were able to make a movie that perfectly balanced new aspects, storylines, and characters with the more familiar ones introduced in the previous movie. It’s difficult to make everything work together smoothly in the way that was done in “Crimes of Grindelwald.” This movie proves the franchise to be more than just a one-hit-wonder, and potentially on par with the likes of Star Wars and the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It has a long way to go still, but the “Fantastic Beasts” franchise has the makings of story that will be remembered for years to come.