Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald First Reviews: Less Magical than the First

Critics say the film lacks some of the trademark Harry Potter magic, but fans will enjoy it.

by | November 8, 2018 | Comments

Despite having the lowest Tomatometer score (74%) of the Wizarding World (aka Harry Potter) franchise, spinoff prequel Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is still Certified Fresh and the brand has maintained a positive 83% average. Unfortunately, that’s about to take a dip if the first reviews of the sequel Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald are any indication.

With a mixed 55% score out of the gate, the new movie is said to be too convoluted, with too many characters, and all in service of the next movie rather than the installment at hand. Still, if you’re a fan of the franchise, you should be satisfied with all the usual magic, as well as the return of a Professor Dumbledore in younger form.

Here’s what critics are saying about the movie:

How does it compare to the previous film?

A huge step up from the middling Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.
Caryn James, Hollywood Reporter

Rowling has improved upon the first Fantastic Beasts film by fleshing out her characters in a way that’s engaging.
David Griffin, IGN

The Crimes of Grindelwald takes the first installment and improves upon it tenfold.
Ashley Menzel, We Live Entertainment

So far, so good — but there’s a counterpoint?

It’s less a necessary new chapter in this ongoing story than… an affordable multiplex alternative to whisking the whole family off to the Wizarding World area of Universal Studios.
– A.A. Dowd, AV Club

As it turns out, the true crime of Grindelwald was wasting the audience’s time.
– Karen Han, Polygon

[It’s] the noisiest, most rhythmless, and least coherent entry in the Wizarding World saga since Alfonso Cuarón first gave the franchise its sea legs in 2004.
– Andrew Barker, Variety

What always made the Harry Potter films so entrancing was its wonder. But that wonder, once portrayed through the eyes of children, is nowhere to be found.
– Robert Daniels, 812filmreviews

Warner Bros. Pictures

(Photo by Warner Bros. Pictures)

How is the magical spectacle?

There’s nothing particularly impressive about the CGI feats in the film… run-of-the-mill where modern blockbusters are concerned.
Karen Han, Polygon

More so than even the last film…The Crimes of Grindelwald has tons of incredible magic effects, dazzling new sets, and adorable (and terrifying) new beasts.
Germain Lussier, io9

So the beasts are still fantastic?

The beasts are the best thing about the movie.
– Karen Han, Polygon

Mostly, I got the sense that the creators regretted saddling themselves with the animal theme.
– Angie Han, Mashable

But is there too much going on?

The Crimes of Grindelwald throws an awful lot at the screen during this clotted two-hour-plus diversion.
Manohla Dargis, New York Times

There are a lot of moving parts in this film, and too many of them are moving without purpose.
Tasha Robinson, The Verve

Rowling has included so many different characters and sub-plots that the narrative momentum is sometimes lost.
Geoffrey Macnab, The Independent

The Crimes of Grindelwald probably had enough plot to drive a four-hour mini-series.
William Bibbiani, The Wrap

Warner Bros. Pictures

(Photo by Warner Bros. Pictures)

Does it move the franchise forward?

At almost every turn, it weaves in broad strokes created only to set up the next movie… The Crimes of Grindelwald doesn’t care about the movie you are watching.
– Germain Lussier, io9

Just like the first one, it still feels like set-up for bigger pay-offs down the line, without the satisfying cliffhanger qualities of, say, The Empire Strikes Back.
– Ian Freer, Empire Magazine

Will we enjoy the familiar characters?

Our returning heroes feel less familiar than they did when they were introduced in the last film, thanks to a rash of baffling decisions.
– Angie Han, Mashable

When [Newt] is allowed to lead this second story, it’s as whimsical and good-hearted as any in the franchise.
– Kate Erbland, IndieWire

Newt remains one of the most distinctive heroes in blockbuster cinema.
– William Bibbiani, The Wrap

The best of the bunch, once again, is the illicit muggle-mage coupling of Jacob and Queenie, who burst into the film’s early stages like an enchanted Tim Curry and Bernadette Peters.
– Andrew Barker, Variety

Queenie and Jacob often seem to be starring in a different, potentially more interesting movie.
– Justin Chang, Los Angeles Times

Warner Bros. Pictures

(Photo by Warner Bros. Pictures)

Are there any great newcomers?

Of the newer characters, the only real standout is Leta Lestrange, played by the effortlessly compelling Zoe Kravitz.
– Angie Han, Mashable

Zoë Kravitz as Leta is pretty fantastic and I love where they go with her character in the film.
– Ashley Menzel, We Live Entertainment

How is Jude Law as Dumbledore?

Jude Law captures the quick wit, easy charm and cloying inscrutability of the character.
– William Bibbiani, The Wrap

Wisely, Law doesn’t try to channel Michael Gambon or Richard Harris… he gives the character the calm, warmth and understanding that has made him such a beloved figure.
– Caryn James, Hollywood Reporter

Is Johnny Depp a problem?

For all of the controversy surrounding Johnny Depp’s casting, it’s strange just how underutilized he is.
– Eric Eisenberg, Cinema Blend

Depp is also supremely average as Grindewald. He simply mails it in.
– Robert Daniels, 812filmreviews

Johnny Depp is instantly captivating as the titular villain and damn creepy, too.
– David Griffin, IGN

His portrayal of Grindelwald rekindles memories of his old mentor, Vincent Price.
– Geoffrey Macnab, The Independent

Johnny Depp is fine, if you can forget about his ugly personal life.
– Angie Han, Mashable

Warner Bros. Pictures

(Photo by )

Is this movie just for the fans?

It’s a movie built special for aficionados of the Wizarding World.
– Eric Eisenberg, Cinema Blend

It’s hard to imagine anyone but hardcore Potterheads getting emotionally involved in this film’s convoluted plotting and ancestral reveals.
– Tasha Robinson, The Verve

Rowling seems to be playing to the fans in the thinnest way possible, building in stories that require foreknowledge to appreciate them fully.
– Kate Erbland, IndieWire

The Crimes of Grindelwald is enough to make J.K. Rowling fans weep in frustration, provided they can even keep their eyes open.
– Justin Chang, Los Angeles Times

Will we walk out anticipating part three?

The twisty plot leads to an explosive climax…including a jaw-dropper for the Potter faithful that’ll have them clamoring for the threequel.
– Brian Truitt, USA Today

The Crimes of Grindelwald is rich and intriguing fare that will leave viewers impatient for the next sequel.
– Geoffrey Macnab, The Independent

It’s hard not to worry about the franchise heading in a similar direction.
– Andrew Barker, Variety

Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald opens everywhere on Friday, November 16. Read all the reviews for it here.

Adjusted Score: 55709%
Critics Consensus: Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald has glimmers of the magic familiar to Harry Potter fans, but the story's spell isn't as strong as earlier installments.
Synopsis: In an effort to thwart Grindelwald's plans of raising pure-blood wizards to rule over all non-magical beings, Albus Dumbledore enlists... [More]
Directed By: David Yates

Tag Cloud

TIFF Adult Swim Hollywood Foreign Press Association satire talk show Cosplay CBS Awards marvel comics cinemax richard e. Grant Trailer Spectrum Originals child's play Musicals festivals Pixar Marvel Television christmas movies new york Amazon Prime Video The Purge diversity anime MTV social media all-time DC Comics DirecTV Comic Book NYCC TCA Winter 2020 parents dark reboot Best Picture genre rt labs dramedy biopic SXSW 2022 animated Wes Anderson blockbusters El Rey aliens President Disney Plus blockbuster scene in color series Teen Film Festival dexter AMC Plus universal monsters strong female leads stoner Food Network Writers Guild of America Binge Guide boxoffice Women's History Month screen actors guild Prime Video Travel Channel chucky Alien Epix Hear Us Out South by Southwest Film Festival ID movies First Look 21st Century Fox Freeform The Witch independent french Watching Series Bravo Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt Amazon Disney Channel nfl adenture razzies LGBTQ Best Actress Animation Turner heist movie A24 Warner Bros. 72 Emmy Awards 007 Awards Tour mission: impossible Baby Yoda APB Trivia Film Acorn TV TCM scorecard police drama TLC Ovation films interviews toronto Hallmark Christmas movies Native TNT X-Men FXX Podcast DC Universe 94th Oscars Thanksgiving die hard RT History 90s mcc jurassic park Endgame Fox News Fantasy Sundance name the review comic feel good video on demand target scene in color discovery Chilling Adventures of Sabrina cartoon Amazon Studios CW Seed spy thriller MCU war Grammys news Toys laika E! natural history south america HFPA live action Broadway venice dogs Paramount summer TV summer preview cancelled TV shows Tomatazos children's TV robots hollywood Country Ghostbusters Mary Tyler Moore Lifetime Christmas movies Pride Month Musical supernatural pirates of the caribbean political drama foreign hispanic heritage month football comic book movie docuseries adaptation nbcuniversal cooking 4/20 Set visit ABC spinoff Disney 99% Winter TV First Reviews ESPN Best Director classics summer TV preview obi wan TV Land 2020 Indigenous cats latino toy story Sneak Peek IFC Films Tubi Kids & Family black target series kong YouTube Red Summer Best and Worst Brie Larson mockumentary Sony Pictures BET cults critic resources documentary Music breaking bad elevated horror Apple 2016 adventure Sony Action australia game show psychological thriller unscripted superhero asian-american 24 frames technology obituary Discovery Channel composers Character Guide indie art house romantic comedy renewed TV shows worst know your critic transformers Comedy monster movies true crime stand-up comedy sequels young adult slashers Family ViacomCBS Star Wars TruTV New York Comic Con The Arrangement debate Hallmark Certified Fresh Arrowverse comedies olympics popular superman Opinion Disney streaming service finale travel Winners Marvel Studios 2021 Crunchyroll GoT what to watch sitcom directors Pop TV disaster Sci-Fi international worst movies 71st Emmy Awards CNN binge ratings Black History Month TCA 2017 Television Academy OWN werewolf Hulu Netflix Drama LGBT crime thriller hispanic Red Carpet FX Premiere Dates The Walt Disney Company Reality Competition BBC America royal family Polls and Games Comic-Con@Home 2021 hidden camera Schedule YouTube Premium zombies Biopics revenge saw Apple TV Plus sag awards Lionsgate free movies godzilla comic books scary movies Fox Searchlight Reality Box Office Countdown golden globes San Diego Comic-Con Marathons comics Pacific Islander batman spanish language VH1 Christmas Rocky aapi Best Actor AMC Paramount Network TV Chernobyl ghosts Photos Lifetime Britbox period drama facebook Mindy Kaling 45 miniseries movie Nat Geo black comedy CBS All Access screenings indiana jones green book Columbia Pictures live event canceled TV shows Video Games Infographic streaming Pet Sematary Crackle spain Spring TV Masterpiece Cannes See It Skip It 93rd Oscars Comics on TV game of thrones OneApp slasher medical drama Holiday rt archives DGA YA comiccon action-comedy Valentine's Day Extras blaxploitation Black Mirror japan Calendar Amazon Prime Syfy Avengers Interview sopranos Peacock National Geographic boxing ABC Signature legend halloween tv E3 Apple TV+ 73rd Emmy Awards Comedy Central reviews zero dark thirty rt labs critics edition IFC space dreamworks Classic Film VOD remakes PaleyFest Universal Pictures james bond video scene in color film series 79th Golden Globes Awards The Academy Creative Arts Emmys BET Awards Oscars italian USA cancelled television TCA Awards tv talk nature Disney+ Disney Plus prank Television Critics Association jamie lee curtis Mary Poppins Returns witnail Cartoon Network serial killer cops FX on Hulu YouTube zombie stop motion SundanceTV joker casting Mary poppins TV movies Image Comics docudrama NBA HBO Go crime drama crossover science fiction Emmy Nominations kids cars theme song Tumblr festival Heroines hist Captain marvel Legendary Paramount Pictures dragons Star Wars Celebration NBC vampires SXSW canceled rom-coms CMT History Anna Paquin Oscar SDCC wonder woman Rocketman The CW Logo 2019 Sundance Now WGN Holidays sports franchise scary mob anthology king kong Tarantino teaser Mudbound MSNBC harry potter Tokyo Olympics 1990s fresh GLAAD Trophy Talk Superheroe spider-verse versus historical drama basketball Election BAFTA critics criterion 78th Annual Golden Globe Awards Fargo Marvel Emmys high school singing competition lord of the rings spanish telelvision 2015 archives ITV kaiju Turner Classic Movies Pop Fall TV 2018 doctor who rotten scene in color MGM romance cancelled TV series Western Esquire Rock Martial Arts USA Network Showtime Ellie Kemper fast and furious psycho cancelled biography 2017 gangster trophy rotten movies we love a nightmare on elm street Mystery women twilight best dc documentaries broadcast sequel quibi Funimation DC streaming service Tags: Comedy comic book movies Walt Disney Pictures Dark Horse Comics Song of Ice and Fire VICE HBO Geeked Week The Walking Dead book Elton John new zealand WarnerMedia Super Bowl TBS BBC One ABC Family concert Lucasfilm halloween Pirates Focus Features Nickelodeon spider-man Star Trek Academy Awards Spike streamig Nominations crime new star wars movies Shondaland mutant justice league PBS thriller BBC leaderboard TV renewals Quiz golden globe awards Sundance TV emmy awards HBO Max dceu deadpool Paramount Plus based on movie TV One Horror book adaptation GIFs Year in Review Rom-Com trailers A&E posters Shudder Universal RT21 Instagram Live PlayStation IMDb TV award winner Neflix TCA vs. Vudu Stephen King Exclusive Video japanese Starz American Society of Cinematographers king arthur suspense politics Superheroes marvel cinematic universe television Netflix Christmas movies FOX streaming movies 20th Century Fox