The reviews are in for Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald.
The second chapter of the Fantastic Beasts series – and the 10th instalment in the Wizarding World franchise that began in 2001 with the first Harry Potter film – stars Eddie Redmayne as Newt Scamander, Katherine Waterston as Tina Goldstein, and Dan Fogler as Jacob Kowalski.
Also featured are Ezra Miller in the role of Credence Barebone, Zoë Kravitz as Leta Lestrange, Jude Law as Albus Dumbledore, and Johnny Depp as Gellert Grindelwald. David Yates, who directed the first Fantastic Beasts film in 2016, reprised his function for the second instalment. JK Rowling wrote the screenplay, as she did for the first film in the series.
Critics have been divided over Fantastic Beasts. While Yates’s directing and Rowling’s writing earned praise, several found the movie confusing and bogged down by two many plot lines.
Here’s what the reviews have said so far (spoiler warning):
JK Rowling has written a fantastically complicated screenplay, full of brothers, sisters and star-crossed lovers who all have fraught relationships with one another. An explosive final reel, set around the Père Lachaise Cemetery in Paris, only goes a certain distance toward making matters clearer.
Like its predecessor, The Crimes of Grindelwald has some very dark moments which veer off into the realm of Fritz Lang-like film noir. These are interspersed with plenty of knockabout comedy. The performances are every bit as vivid as the special effects. Director David Yates and his team show their now expected levels of virtuoso craftsmanship. In terms of production values, this is Rolls Royce filmmaking. The film boasts an astonishing level of visual detail and inventiveness. The only drawback is that Rowling has included so many different characters and sub-plots that the narrative momentum is sometimes lost. (Geoffrey Macnab)
Rowling’s Wizarding World epic includes specific references to the Hogwarts universe that we already know and love, younger versions of the old characters, and so in some ways has a more prequelised look, with hints of an origin myth. But as so often with fantasy adventure, the stormclouds are rolling in and the story is inexorably weighted towards a titanic battle of good and evil. It is just as spectacular as the wonderful opening film, with lovingly realised creatures, witty inventions and sprightly vignettes. But I couldn’t help feeling that the narrative pace was a little hampered, and that we are getting bogged down, just a bit, in a lot of new detail. (Peter Bradshaw)
Everything about The Crimes of Grindelwald is inward-looking and self-referential: it smacks of an epic join-the-dots game played across reams of unpublished appendices and footnotes. The result is one of the gravest cases of prequel-itis since Star Wars: The Phantom Menace, in which in place of ordinary storytelling, a chessboard’s-worth of characters and objects are fussily rearranged over the course of two hours plus change, in order to set the stage for whatever comes next. (Robbie Collin)
Written by JK Rowling herself, the film is a beautiful return to the Wizarding World, with plenty of magical moments and twisty lore to keep fans interested. But, as a middle film in a five-part series, it sometimes struggles under the pressure of juggling numerous storylines and manoeuvring its cast into place for later movies. (Hugh Armitage)
The latest instalment of JK Rowling’s 5-part Harry Potter prequel is a magical adventure, an immersive dip back into the Wizarding World, packed with wonder and delight, which should elicit warm memories and Christmassy feels. Like a visit to Warner Bros “Making of Harry Potter” Studio Tour, the set pieces, the stunning visuals, the world building and the sheer attention to detail will blow your socks off. But like the WB tour, there’s too many people and you don’t go there for the plot. (Rosie Fletcher)
The sequel has better and at times galvanizing special effects, a darker tone and a high-stakes battle between good and evil. Best of all, its characters are more vibrantly drawn, and tangled in relationships that range from delightful to lethal.
Crimes of Grindelwald also has some serious liabilities, the gravest being a misbegotten performance by Johnny Depp as the villain of the title. But unlike the first instalment, which felt like a strained effort to extend Rowling’s brand, this engaging film has a busy, kinetic style of its own. (Caryn James)
An excruciating bore just barely enlivened by stray glimpses of Hogwarts, a flicker of gay romance and a menagerie of computer-generated creepy-crawlies, Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald is enough to make JK Rowling fans weep in frustration, provided they can even keep their eyes open. Presumably Rowling, her fellow producers and the top brass at Warner Bros. were thinking about those fans – meaning their capacity for pleasure and enchantment, not just their pocketbooks – when they decided to launch a series of prequels to their justly celebrated Harry Potter cycle.
Then again, who knows what they were thinking, judging by 2016’s rickety Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, which was written for the screen by Rowling herself and directed by David Yates with none of the grave, elegant atmospherics he brought to bear on the last four Potter films. (Justin Chang)
Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald is out on 16 November in the US and in the UK.