When FANTASTIC BEASTS AND WHERE TO FIND THEM released in 2016 I was ropable, I detested the movie with a passion. It was a cute cash grab for more Potter dollars. People wanted more Potter and it was just far enough removed that it was shite, have watched it again and still not a fan, although I love Eddie Redmayne and it now holds a better story with the sequel continuing the plot. When the trailers started for FANTASTIC BEASTS: THE CRIMES OF GRINDELWALD I groaned, even felt the same when tickets to the premiere arrived. But I have seen it now and while it is still Potterverses away from being magical it is one epically huge improvement on the first.

FANTASTIC BEASTS: THE CRIMES OF GRINDELWALD releases in Australia tomorrow, Nov 14th from Warner Bros Pictures/ Roadshow Films. It is rated PG and runs for 138mins.



In an effort to thwart Grindelwald’s plans of raising pure-blood wizards to rule over all non-magical beings, Albus Dumbledore enlists his former student Newt Scamander, who agrees to help, unaware of the dangers that lie ahead. Lines are drawn as love and loyalty are tested, even among the truest friends and family, in an increasingly divided world.


Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald Jude Law and Joshua Shea image
Jude Law and Joshua Shea



FANTASTIC BEASTS: THE CRIMES OF GRINDELWALD is what the first instalment should have been. Fast paced, beautifully shot, and a decent story that ties into the Potterverse. It still has a long way to go but apparently there will be FIVE FILMS IN TOTAL, they have plenty of films left to get it right. I still think the biggest hurdle for the franchise to overcome is storyline, this entire franchise is based on a fictional text book in the Harry Potter movies written by Newt Scamander.

Where the Potter movies gave us all books to read multiple times to get the story into our soul we are guests in the Beasts Universe having to get all the story from the screen. As such the films suffer from over exposition, every one of the million characters has a backstory that needs explaining. If we had books they could do this less onscreen because we would already know them in detail. Instead we barely tread water keeping up with subplots and exposition.

But FANTASTIC BEASTS: THE CRIMES OF GRINDELWALD does manage to get a lot right. Less of the animals but more cuteness when they are onscreen. This does have a downside as now Newt is acting more like an Auror and this completely goes against the title “Fantastic Beasts” – was a Magizookeeper’s story too boring? So all the darkness was added? This is probably the biggest conundrum of the Fantastic Beasts movies, the beasts are basically irrelevant.


Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald Callum Turner, Zoe Kravitz and Eddie Redmayne image
Callum Turner, Zoe Kravitz and Eddie Redmayne



The most important parts I love are the forming of origins in the Harry Potter world. Lots of ancestors of Potter characters are present and the forming of good and bad generational legacies happen on screen. Seeing the origin of Nagini, seeing the Lestrange future forming and seeing Nicolas Flamel onscreen all gave me goosebumps. But I literally squealed each time we ventured to Hogwarts – it was like seeing an old friend and it put me in my happy place.

BUT – the subplots and most of the story is a mess. Dan Fogler’s Jacob Kowalski is a waste of film, he had no purpose besides being a likeable character from the first movie. Nagini had little meaning either and while megalomaniac Grindelwald has sound reasons (in theory) for starting the pureblood movement and turning the magic community against muggles his motives are less clear and his rally towards the end of the movie had a lot less impact than it deserved. He gave a talk about war and how dangerous muggles are but one dead witch from self defence is not cause enough to turn the magic community against the non-wizarding humanity.


Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald Johnny Depp image
Johnny Depp



The cast has definitely grown on me and I hate to say it but I am excited for the third instalment now. Eddie Redmayne is superb and I love how he is less of a bumbling idiot and more a nuanced, if definitely on-the-autism-spectrum, wizard with a lot of skills. He is someone to rely on in FANTASTIC BEASTS: THE CRIMES OF GRINDELWALD and I have started to bond with him and other characters. The relationship with his brother is genuine, as is his almost father/son relationship with Dumbledore. I have to give special mention to Joshua Shea, who plays young Newt when he is studying at Hogwarts. Shea perfectly displays every single mannerism of Redmayne’s Newt – I honestly believed it was a young Redmayne.

I am keen to see where Newt’s brother’s character heads in following instalments, Callum Turner has a good presence onscreen. Zoe Kravitz’s Leta Lestrange also has a story arc I am eager to follow and I really hope they sort out Jacob and Queenie’s storyline. Tina Goldstein is great onscreen but she has little purpose in this.

I love where Ezra Miller’s story is heading but I really hope the epically slow build to his character finally pays off. Jude Law nails Dumbledore, he is a wonderful younger version of Michael Gambon’s Dumbledore and I need to see more of him!

Finally Johnny Depp as Grindelwald; everyone hated the casting. It works really well however. I love seeing Depp deliver as a dark and evil character that isn’t as cartoonish as his previous roles. I thought he was chilling in most of his scenes even if his accent is inconsistent. Grindelwald’s story can go many places in the upcoming films and i’m keen to see what Depp does with it.


Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald Claudia Kim and Ezra Miller image
Claudia Kim and Ezra Miller



FANTASTIC BEASTS: THE CRIMES OF GRINDELWALD is going to split viewers. I read one article the other day stating critics are ripping into the film so harshly they are like Death Eaters. But in all honesty I thought it was eons more entertaining and with more purpose than the first film. For the first time ever I am actually interested to see where this story heads.





 owns, writes and edits Salty Popcorn and Spooning Australia. He is a movie, food, restaurant, wine, chocolate, bacon, burger and brussels sprouts addict. He is a member of the Australian Film Critics Association and has been in the  industry for 26yrs. Furthermore he loves watching people trip over and is Leonardo DiCaprio’s biggest fan. 

** Images used are courtesy of various sources on Google or direct from the distributor or publisher. Credit has been given to photographers where known – images will be removed on request.