The first reviews for Warner Bros.’ Harry Potter prequel-sequel Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald are in, and they’re … more of the same. The majority of the early reviews feel like a rehashing of the original film in this new prequel series: Too many characters, too little focus, and the saving grace of charismatic performances and truly magical effects work. There are a couple of outliers here who found FB2 to be pure magic, but it sounds like fans might want to temper expectations.
Written by J.K. Rowling and directed by David Yates, Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald stars Eddie Redmayne, Jude Law, Johnny Depp, Ezra Miller, Claudia Kim, Katherine Waterston, Alison Sudol, Dan Fogler, Zoe Kravitz, Callum Turner, William Nadylam, Kevin Guthrie, Carmen Ejogo, and Poppy Corby-Tuech. The sequel opens in theaters on November 16th.
Let’s take a look at some samples from the early reviews making the rounds:
The Verge – Tasha Robinson
For the serious fans who this series is meant for, the promise of at least six more hours of Fantastic Beasts action likely means a lot more thrilling beasts, barriers, and beats to explore. Everyone else may find that all the little personal bits of character business and frantic complications aren’t much of a substitute for a clear and compelling plot with a single meaningful protagonist … By taking the focus off of Newt and putting it on the vast world of his background characters, Crimes of Grindelwald takes a few troubled steps away from any sense of a center.
iO9/Gizmodo – Germain Lussier
[U]ltimately, all the steps the film took to get [to the big reveal] amount to so little, that feeling is as fleeting as its narrative. Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald is chapter two in a longer story that may look better once we see the rest—but, on its own, it fails to live up to its Harry Potter roots.
Polygon – Karen Han
As it turns out, the true crime of Grindelwald was wasting the audience’s time … The Crimes of Grindelwald isn’t a breeze by any definition of the word, and it becomes exasperating when so much of it turns out to be filler, drawing out plot points that could easily be resolved in a 30-second conversation (a habit held over from the Harry Potter books, though those could hold their own ground). The movie dangles cohesiveness and satisfying conclusions in front of an audience that must return for a third installment of the series — if one that would be building off of the series’ weaknesses rather than its strengths. Please, for next time: more beasts, and fewer crimes.
IndieWire – Kate Erbland
At least it all builds to a massive battle between the forces of good and evil — a Rowling staple if there ever was one — that tears apart some key relationships, establishes others, and sets the stage for more drama and trauma to come. As impressive as the final showdown is (it’s easily one of the most impressive setpieces in this fledgling franchise) and as shocking as the film’s closing revelations are (yes, they really are), this magic needs a spell of its own.
Telegraph – Robbie Collin
The biggest riddle in Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald is working out what on earth the film is actually about. (2 out of 5 stars)
LA Times – Justin Chang
Should the Dumbledore-Grindelwald relationship ever make its way fully out of the narrative closet, the next three “Fantastic Beasts” movies might do well to explore that resonant subtext. With any luck, they might even be good.
TimeOut – Olly Richards
With its callbacks to the Potter universe and a lovely eye for detail, ‘The Crimes of Grindelwald’ has bags of charm and a warm familiarity, but too many characters and too much plot are weighing this beast down. (3 out of 5 stars)