The Harry Potter film series is truly a world unto itself. Between being both a box office sensation and a franchise that has spawned toys, books and even a theme park. After the release of ‘Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them‘ in 2016 and that film’s commercial and critical success, a new series of movies was a given. ‘The Crimes of Grindelwald‘ picks up where the first film left off with Gellert Grindelwald being transferred from New York to London. Obviously he escapes and from there… the plot gets complicated, to say the least. All of the familiar faces from the original are back: Eddie Redmayne reprises the role of lovable Hufflepuff alum and Magizoologist Newt Scamander. Katherine Waterston, Dan Fogler, Alison Sudol, Ezra Miller & Johnny Depp also return for the sequel along with newcomers Jude Law as a young Albus Dumbledore, Callum Turner as Newt’s brother Theseus and Claudia Kim as Nagini. Sadly, despite the best efforts of a talented and illustrious cast, this is one sequel that falls woefully short of the mark.
The problems mainly lay in a convoluted plot that seems to be scattershot at best and downright jumbled at worst. It is devoid of the nostalgic charm & whimsy of the original film and it’s only in the passing references and nods made toward the Harry Potter world we all have come to love that make it sufficiently interesting for the viewer to slog through to the rather lackluster climax. As stated earlier, the actors are first rate and seem to not only embrace their respective roles, but also relish in them as the movie advances. In the end, I feel like I am getting a product that only serves as a step towards the next film, which in my opinion, is a waste of a film. Subplots are waved away with ham-handed carelessness and Harry Potter canon is changed in an eyebrow raising manner. Were I not such a fan of this universe in which I have been immersed now for nearly 20 years, this movie might have caused me to write it off and be done. My only hope is that the next film in the ‘Fantastic Beasts’ series provides some degree of payoff from this shambles. For the sake of the actors involved and for the fans who are invested in the happenings of the greater Potter world, the 3rd entry needs to do some major damage control right off the bat. Due to the reasons listed above, I am only able to “Accio” my way to give ‘The Crimes of Grindelwald’ a muggling score of 4 out of 10. There isn’t enough magic out there to get me to wade through a 2nd viewing of this one, Friends.