This movie is a sequel to Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find them. By the end of that movie, Grindelwald has committed so many crimes and is so dangerous that the Ministry of Magic has imprisoned him with such powerful magic that he can’t possibly escape. That means the first minutes of this movie show him making an impossible escape. Johnny Depp fairly oozes evil as the clever and ruthless Grindelwald.
The next scene is Newt Scamander playing with one of his fantastic beasts. A woman, Leta LeStrange, enters and then his brother, Theseus. There’s tension among all three. Then they go to the Ministry of Magic. Newt is asked to go to Paris and hunt down Credence. He refuses but soon a youthful, very handsome Dumbledore summons him and persuades him and soon he’s off to Paris but not before running into more old friends from the first movie. Soon we realize that three women are in love with Newt. Meantime, new characters are introduced. Some are fascinating. There’s Nagina, played by Claudia Kim. She is cursed to become a snake but she wants to stay human. She is introduced and then dropped from the movie. There’s Credence himself who seems confused. There’s Leta LeStrange with quite a story to tell.
If this sounds confusing and like too many subplots and characters are being introduced too quickly, you are right. I was hopelessly confused. It’s consistently entertaining scene by scene but you start wondering what the plot is and if Grindelwald will reappear.
Finally, he shows up in Paris plotting to have wizards take over the world from the muggles (non-magic peoples). This should have been the main plot and it shows up late. There’s also a problem. He now is a Hitler type leader. Johnny Depp was great showing him as an evil individual, but he is not convincing as a speaker stirring up a crowd of followers. He doesn’t have that kind of charisma. Meanwhile, Newt and friends have to defeat him and wrap up as many of the subplots as they can.
I liked the 2016 Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them, but mostly I had enjoyed Newt’s adventures with his critters. There was a plot but I had pretty well forgotten it along with the names of the other characters (such as Credence). I strongly recommend watching the first movie the day before you see this one.
I don’t want to sound too critical. It’s colorful, action-packed and entertaining. The one thing wrong is that it’s the second movie in a five part series. Clearly, this one is setting up plots and introducing characters that we’ll meet again.
And that’s the problem. This is not a standalone and it should be since it will be another year or two before the next one. There’s enough story here for a wonderful tv miniseries. Instead of five movies, this should be ten or fifteen episodes a week apart. Then it would be much more enjoyable.
So I’m saying this movie in entertaining enough to be worth seeing but it should have been so much better than it is.
Reviewed by Marian Powell