The first reviews for Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald have arrived, and overall the critics seem to be somewhat underwhelmed by this latest sequel/prequel set in the world of Harry Potter. Directed by David Yates, The Crimes of Grindelwald picks up after the events of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, with magizoologist Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne) tasked by a young Professor Albus Dumbledore (Jude Law) with putting a stop to the rise of dark wizard Gellert Grindelwald (Johnny Depp).
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them was an easy box office hit, grossing $814 million worldwide upon its release in 2016. However, Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald will be the real test of whether audiences have gotten hooked on the post-Harry Potter wizarding world, and whether they're in for the long haul (since a whole slate of future Fantastic Beasts sequels has already been planned).
So far, the critics don't seem fully convinced, with The Crimes of Grindelwald's Rotten Tomatoes score standing at a solidly mediocre 55% after the first day of reviews. The movie doesn't appear to be particularly loved or loathed, but instead has garnered a collection of mostly average scores from reviewers who feel that it didn't conjure up the same kind of magic as earlier entries in the franchise. Here's what the reviewers have to say:
Angie Han - Mashable
If Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, the 2016 spinoff, raised the question of how much Wizarding World lore was too much Wizarding World lore, the new Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald definitively answers it: This. This is too much.
Ian Freer - Empire
It’s a film stuffed with characters, big moments and impressive spectacle but still feels bizarrely underpowered. There are twists and revelations but very few that alter the outcome of the film you are actually watching. Just like the first one, it still feels like set-up for bigger pay-offs down the line.
Peter Bradshaw - The Guardian
This Fantastic Beasts film is as watchable and entertaining as expected and it’s an attractive Christmas event, but some of the wonder, novelty and sheer narrative rush of the first film has been mislaid in favour of a more diffuse plot focus, spread out among a bigger ensemble cast. There’s also a more self-conscious, effortful laying down of foundations for a big mythic franchise with apocalyptic battles still way off below the horizon.
Andrew Barker - Variety
The noisiest, most rhythmless, and least coherent entry in the Wizarding World saga since Alfonso Cuarón first gave the franchise its sea legs in 2004, “Grindelwald” feels less like “The Hobbit” than a trawl through the appendixes of “The Silmarillion” — a confusing jumble of new characters and eye-crossing marginalia. Most of the surface pleasures of filmic Potterdom... have survived intact, but real magic is in short supply.
Karen Han - Polygon
[Crimes of Grindelwald] manages to replicate some of the first movie’s charm — the beasts are pretty fantastic — but it wrecks most of that goodwill by succumbing to the cumbersome (and ultimately counterproductive) way in which J.K. Rowling tends to retcon her own work, and the overwhelming effort exerted to set up a third Beasts movie... As it turns out, the true crime of Grindelwald was wasting the audience’s time.
Of course, The Crimes of Grindelwald could well be review-proof when it comes to the box office, since there's a core fanbase that will show up for anything connected to the Harry Potter franchise. It also carries a lot of built-in appeal as a late fall family offering, since many of those who grew up reading J.K. Rowling's books now have young children of their own. There may well prove to be a divide between general critic and fan opinions, as there has been with other recent movies like Venom and Bohemian Rhapsody.
Fortunately, Harry Potter fans won't have to wait too much longer to see Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald for themselves, as it arrives in theaters worldwide next week.
- Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald/Fantastic Beasts 2 (2018) release date: Nov 16, 2018