Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald


The universe of the Wizarding World continues to expand in . While in the midst of being transferred from custody in New York back to London, the dark wizard Gellert Grindelwald (Johnny Depp) escapes and begins amassing a legion of followers. Despite being banned from travel outside of England, Newt Scamander () is asked by Albus Dumbledore () to travel to Paris and look for Credence Barebone (), who is trying to search for clues about his true origins. This search reunites Newt with American Auror Tina Goldstein () and put his at odds with his older brother Theseus () and ex-love Leta Lestrange ().

With Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald, director David Yates and writer J.K. Rowling takes what started off as a Harry Potter spin-off based on a fictional textbook and turns it into a full universe-building saga. All the central characters return, including some that were apparently killed or written out, such as Ezra Miller's Credence Barebone and 's Jacob Kowalski. The film also begins to introduce connective tissue to the Harry Potter saga, introducing Jude Law as a young Albus Dumbledore and even having Claudia Kim as Nagini, the human form of the snake, who eventually becomes the companion of Lord Voldemort.

As the title of the film would attest, the name attraction of The Crimes of Grindelwald is Johnny Depp as the albino dark wizard Gellert Grindelwald. Having previously been “closer than friends” with Albus Dumbledore, the latter refuses to fight Grindelwald, instead utilizing the help of Newt Scamander and his collection of beasts. This film also goes a bit of 
Scamander's backstory, including his time at Hogwarts and friendship with Leta Lestrange, who is part of an infamous family that practices the dark arts and was subject to ridicule because of it.

It seems that every film franchise these days is all about building an expanded universe for the characters. Taking place in 1927, decades before the birth of Harry Potter, The Crimes of Grindelwald continue to assemble the pieces that will eventually connect to the Harry Potter stories. This film features a lot more winks and nods to Harry Potter, including the return to Hogwarts and a reference to the recurring gag about the Defense Against the Dark Arts.

Two films in and I am not yet full on board with this expanded “Potterverse” (or Wizarding World as the logo at the start says). While I didn't dislike The Crimes of Grindelwald, this series is starting to reach the point where I would need an encyclopedia to know how all the characters connect with each other. 

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Sean Patrick Kelly
Sean Patrick Kelly
Sean Patrick Kelly is a freelance film critic and blogger based in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.