Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald
(L-R): Actors Dan Fogler and Eddie Redmayne star in director David Yates’ action fantasy film, ‘Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald.’

Title: ‘Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald’

Director: David Yates (‘Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them,’ ‘Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Parts 1 and 2’ and ‘The Legend of Tarzan’)

Starring: Eddie Redmayne, Johnny Depp, Zoë Kravitz, Ezra Miller and Jude Law

Engagingly translating a beloved fantasy literary phenomenon into numerous emotionally and visually vibrant film adaptations can be an equally daunting and rewarding process. But director David Yates has once again powerfully overcome the initially intimidating prospect of bringing the acclaimed ‘Harry Potter’ book series to the screen, with his latest movie adaptation of novelist J.K. Rowling’s series.

After helming the last four films in the original ‘Harry Potter’ series, as well as its first prequel, 2016’s ‘Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them,’ Yates has also fearlessly directed the franchise’s second prequel, ‘Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald,’ which Warner Bros. is releasing tomorrow in theaters in the U.S. and the U.K. The filmmaker and Rowling, who also penned the script for the film series’ latest installment, once again infused the ‘Fantastic Beasts’ world with captivating character arcs and relationships, as well as magical special effects and settings.

‘Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald,’ which is set n 1927, six months after the first prequel film ends, continues the adventures of obsessive magizoologist, Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne). The well-meaning but demure wizard learns that his intimidating foe, the villainous and powerful title dark wizard, Gellert Grindelwald (Johnny Depp), has escaped from the New York prison where he was being held after he was apprehended in ‘Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.’ Grindelwald escapes in an effort to launch a populist movement to defeat the world’s non-magical population.

Newt is approached by his former teacher at Hogwarts, Albus Dumbledore (Jude Law), to stop Grindelwald from taking over the world, as the powerful wizard in the British Wizarding Community has personal reasons why he can’t fight the dark wizard. Newt is initially hesitant to travel to France, as his brother, Theseus (Callum Turner), and other leaders at the British Ministry of Magic are still wary of his actions in New York. As a result, Newt isn’t a big supporter of the regional authorities, and is therefore initially hesitant to help them in their efforts.

But Newt soon changes his mind when he learns that his latest love interest, Tina (Katherine Waterston), the investigator of dark wizards and newly reinstated auror whom he left behind in New York, is now in France. So he decides to head to its capitol city to find Tina, who wrongfully believes that he’s engaged to his former classmate at Hogwarts, Leta Lestrange (Zoë Kravitz), who’s actually engaged to Theseus. Newt travels to Paris with his friend, Jacob Kowalsk (Dan Fogler), without the knowledge of the British Wizarding Community, who have maintained his restriction on international travel.

Once Newt and Jacob, who’s in love with Tina’s younger sister, the powerful natural Legilimens, Queenie (Alison Sudol), arrive in Paris, they set out to find the gifted yet troubled Credence Barebone (Ezra Miller). Credence, who unleashed destruction on Manhattan in the film’s predecessor, is still torn between good and evil, and whether he should side with Newt or Grindelwald, who wishes to use Credence’s powers to his advantage. Through their trials and tribulations across Europe, the allies of both Newt and Grindelwald contemplate their best course of action, and how they should approach defeating their seemingly villainous opponents.

Rowling has powerfully continued to expand one of the most atmospheric, pliable and livable fantasy worlds in the 21st century with the second prequel in the beloved and enticing ‘Harry Potter’ franchise. ‘Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald’ intriguingly incorporates a darker tone and a high-stakes battle between good and evil than its predecessor, which stunningly allows its characters to be more vibrantly explored, both in their wizard abilities and their relationships. The adventure fantasy sequel stunningly builds the density of the character and story details, as Newt and Grindelwald both fight for what they believe is a worthy cause.

Redmayne and Depp lead an intriguing cast that enthralling builds a foreboding sense of a looming battle between the light and dark wizarding worlds. The Oscar-winning lead actor once again perfectly infuses Newt with a coy shyness as he contemplates what he wants in life, as well as how he should approach his relationships and the perceptions people have of him. The Golden Globe-winning supporting actor, meanwhile, not entrancingly highlights Grindelwald’s evil nature and purpose of overtaking the world, but also infuses a surprising sense of sympathy, relatablity and understanding during a key sequence during the drama’s climax.

‘Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald’ not only enchantingly explores the interplay of light and dark amongst its diverse and distinct characters, but also creates an atmospheric exterior. Through stimulating special effects, including a fierce lionlike Zouwu that helps Newt fight his enemies, and captivating settings, including a magical underworld in Paris that’s full of wild street carnivals, as well as gothic rooftops and bridges where Newt and Dumbledore meet to discuss defeating Grindelwald, the family movie perfectly highlights the visual strengths and efficiencies of the ‘Harry Potter’ universe.

Compellingly translating a beloved fantasy literary phenomenon into numerous emotionally and visually dynamic film adaptations can be an equally daunting and rewarding process. But Yates has once again enthrallinglly overcome the initially intimidating prospect of bringing the acclaimed ‘Harry Potter’ book series to the screen, with the engaging and tantalizing ‘Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald.’ The latest movie adaptation of Rowling’s series infused the ‘Fantastic Beasts’ world with captivating character arcs and relationships and magical special effects and settings, which will surely capture the attention of devoted ‘Harry Potter’ fans.

Technical: A-

Acting: B+

Story: B

Overall: B+

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'Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald'
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By Karen Benardello

As a graduate of LIU Post with a B.F.A in Journalism, Print and Electronic, Karen Benardello serves as ShockYa's Senior Movies & Television Editor. Her duties include interviewing filmmakers and musicians, and scribing movie, television and music reviews and news articles. As a New York City-area based journalist, she's a member of the guilds, New York Film Critics Online and the Women Film Critics Circle.

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