Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald film full review
The Crimes of Grindelwald may deal with the fantastical, but its core conflict is far from fiction and is as timely as ever. Here's what we thought – though for additional rumours and theories about the film, see our dedicated article.
If you're wondering if there's a post credit scene or any Easter eggs, we have an article on that too.
The Crimes of Grindelwald releases in the UK and US on 16 November 2018.
Set in the late 1920s, The Crimes of Grindelwald moves through the streets of New York, London and Paris, which is where it mostly culminates.
Newt Scamander, the mild-mannered magizoologist, returns with auror Tina Goldstein, though they are somewhat estranged since the last film. Jacob Kowalski and Tina’s sister Queenie Goldstein return as well.
We’re also introduced to Newt Scamander’s elder brother, Theseus, who is an auror at the Ministry of Magic and fiance to fellow auror Leta Lestrange, who has a troubled history of her own.
Without giving away spoilers, a melange of wizards, aurors, muggles, double agents and dark wizards ultimately compete in a manhunt – which plays into a larger proxy war between the powerful dark wizard Gellart Grindelwald and Albus Dumbledore.
New fantastical beasts grace the screen too, two of which particularly stand out. First there's Kelpie a shape-shifting sea creature with long kelp tendrils (obviously), and then the scene-stealing Zouwu, a cat-like dragon from China, which can travel up to 1000 miles in a day.
The tone in The Crimes of Grindelwald is markedly darker than the first film, both in treatment and theme, echoing some of the sombre grey tones that coloured the last two Harry Potter films. That's because The Crimes of Grindelwald is dark.
Its plot winds through the difficult emotional terrains of loss, isolation, and guilt. Infants die, families are separated or murdered, characters are abused and, in one instance, even raped.
Hurt feelings then become fodder for the essential conflict in the film: the insidious nature of intolerance. This concentrates in Grindelwald.
Grindelwald’s evil lies in his genocidal desire to create a new world order ruled by pure blood wizards. His vision isn’t motivated by hate, but fear and disgust towards difference. His self-preservation is driven through violence – and his tactic is persuasion through fear-mongering.
This no doubt resonates with a social political landscape outside the film too, not only within the context of recent spikes in far right nationalism but also the historical background of such sentiments. At one point, Grindelwald conjures a vision of a war to come: biplanes fly over a decimated city and a mass exodus of people look as though they're either being evacuated or being escorted to certain death.
It's where fiction collides with reality and audiences are reminded, viscerally, Grindelwald's danger is not new or mythical.
The film’s social awareness is perhaps where it most excels – beyond the impressive scope of its visual effects and of course its fantastic beasts.
The Crimes of Grindelwald moves beyond wowing audiences with impressive special effects – though it is not short of such spectacles. However, peel away the magic, and you're left with a dark human drama about love, loss, isolation, guilt – and the dangers of a society that's intolerant of difference. It's a film for the fans and those just looking to enjoy the ride.