Harry Potter fans will have the opportunity to re-emerge themselves within the Wizarding World with the release of Warner Bros.' Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald on Nov. 16. However, based on early reviews, the sequel to the 2016 film Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them and the second of a planned five-film Harry Potter spinoff series fails to conjure up the same magic that had previously drawn in so many fans to the Wizarding World.
Written by Harry Potter author J. K. Rowling and starring Academy Award-winner Eddie Redmayne as magizoologist Newt Scamander, Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald delves deeper into Harry Potter lore by chronicling the rise to power of notorious dark wizard Gellert Grindelwald, portrayed by Johnny Depp. The Crimes of Grindelwald will see a young Albus Dumbledore, portrayed by Jude Law, enlist the help of Newt to take down Grindelwald.
Early reviews are now starting to pour in ahead of the film's release next week, opening with a Rotten Tomatoes score of 52 percent based on 27 reviews, with an average rating of 6.3/10. "Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald has glimmers of the magic familiar to Harry Potter fans, but the story's spell isn't as strong as earlier installments," states the Rotten Tomatoes critics consensus.
While CBR's review of Fantastic Beast: The Crimes of Grindelwald will be published next week, here's a selection of what other critics are saying about the film:
A. A. Dowd, AV Club: "The Crimes Of Grindelwald—the second of five planned trips to the pre-Potter timeline—is all about milking that brand for everything it’s worth. It’s less a necessary new chapter in this ongoing story than the movie-shaped equivalent of memorabilia, or maybe just an affordable multiplex alternative to whisking the whole family off to the Wizarding World area of Universal Studios. Newt, meanwhile, never conveys anything resembling an impure impulse. He's as tame as the cuddliest beasts stuffed into his suitcase, and even less than fantastic than the series he headlines."
Caryn James, The Hollywood Reporter: "Eddie Redmayne’s shy, diffident character Newt Scamander — the Magizoologist with a menagerie of comically odd creatures in his suitcase — is no Harry Potter, at least not yet. But Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald, the second in the projected five-movie franchise written by J.K. Rowling, displays enough of the author’s magical formula and Dickensian narrative power to make this sequel a huge step up from the middling Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (2016). 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."
Andrew Barker, Variety: "Unfortunately, even the most meticulous world-building is only half the journey; you still have to populate that world with real characters and compelling stories, and it’s that second half of the equation that comes up missing in Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald. 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 appendices of The Silmarillion — a confusing jumble of new characters and eye-crossing marginalia. Most of the surface pleasures of filmic Potterdom (the chiaroscuro tones, the overqualified character actors, the superb costuming, James Newton Howard’s warmly enveloping score) have survived intact, but real magic is in short supply."
Germain Lussier, iO9: "There’s a moment near the end of Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald when I realized the scene I was watching could have been the second one in the movie. Instead, it was near the end, climactic and important. Yet it took so long to get here and everything that happened prior was so superfluous to the events unfolding, it dawned on me that the latest film in J.K. Rowling’s Wizarding World simply wasn’t up to par."
Kate Erbland, IndieWire: "Even magic takes a little bit of planning, and in David Yates’ Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald, both are in short supply. In it second outing, the cracks are starting to show in J.K. Rowling’s much-hyped followup series to Harry Potter, a franchise that is at the mercy of slapdash planning (these films are cobbled together from various pieces of “Wizarding World” material, not single novels) and the kind of higher-up decree that promised five films (five!) before the first one hit theaters. It’s a lot of time to fill, and while the second film in the franchise nudges its narrative forward, it’s at the expense of a bloated, unfocused screenplay."
William Bibbiani, TheWrap: "The Wizarding World gets a lot bigger in Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald, a new fantasy adventure that plays like a 1,000-page novel shoved into a 134-minute running time. It’s full of exciting new characters, revelations and storylines, but the only way you could possibly keep them all in the air at the same time would be to use a Wingardium Leviosa spell. And spoiler alert: Those don’t actually exist."
Eric Eisenberg, CinemaBlend: "The movie is solid and loaded with fun characters and sequences, but it's also a ride that is designed specifically to be enjoyed by those who have long invested their hearts into the Wizarding World. However, it's also a double-edged sword. While you also have to admire the movie's commitment and confidence in itself, it's definitely going to leave some crowds feeling like they are on the outside looking in."
David Griffin, IGN: "J.K. Rowling’s whimsical Wizarding World series becomes a bit larger and more fleshed out in Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald. This richly layered story is brimming with colorful new creatures, stunning visual effects, and enough intriguing storylines to fuel the final three entries."
In theaters November 16, Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald is directed by David Yates and written by Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling. Rowling, David Heyman, Steve Kloves, and Lionel Wigram serve as producers. The film stars Eddie Redmayne, Jude Law, Johnny Depp, Katherine Waterston, Alison Sudol, Dan Fogler, Ezra Miller, Zoë Kravitz, Fiona Glascott and Callum Turner.