Parental Guidance

The Crimes of Grindelwald and Three Other Films about Fantastic Beasts

If you think The Crimes of Grindelwald might be a bit much for your kids, here are three alternatives about other magical creatures.

by | November 16, 2018 | Comments

This week, fans of the Harry Potter world will likely flock to theaters for Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald, the second chapter in the prequel franchise centered on magizoologist Newt Scamander, but how frightening will it be for young viewers? Christy Lemire breaks down whether or not the film’s dark magic will spook the little ones and offers up a trio of alternatives — also about fantastic beasts in various forms — in case you can’t make it to theaters for The Crimes of Grindelwald… or choose not to risk freaking out your toddlers.


THE MOVIE

Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald (2018) 36%

Rating: PG-13, for some sequences of fantasy action.

The sequel to 2016’s Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is less fantastic, and it actually features fewer beasts. Nevertheless, this spin-off series from the Harry Potter universe continues to slog along. These films aren’t as strong as their source material, and this second one is a step down from the first. Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne) is back for more magical adventures in the 1920s, but they don’t have much to do with his work as a magizoologist. This time, a young Dumbledore (Jude Law) has tasked him with tracking down the villainous Gellert Grindelwald (Johnny Depp), who has staged a daring prison break. Grindelwald is amassing all the pureblood wizards worldwide to rise up and take over the half-bloods and Muggles, or No-Majs as they’re known here. Themes of totalitarianism lingered over the first film, but this time, Potter mastermind and screenwriter J.K. Rowling spells it out in much more plain and harrowing fashion. We see imagery reminiscent of the Holocaust in a theoretical flash-forward: trains, fires, ashes. The wizard battles can be quite intense and the overall tone is dark. And returning director David Yates (who also directed the last four Harry Potter movies) is juggling so many characters and subplots, it might be difficult for younger viewers to follow. I’d say this is fine for kids around 9 and older, especially if they’re already familiar with the series.


THE RECOMMENDATIONS

If the Fantastic Beasts movies are too intense for the kids in your family – or you’re just looking for something better – here are some other films featuring magical creatures you all might enjoy.

Pete's Dragon (2016) 88%

Rating: G

You could show your kids the 1977 original, as well. But this one’s far more visually dazzling (and probably easier to find). Director David Lowery’s wistful and transporting family film is sort of a remake, in that it’s about a boy named Pete, and he has a dragon, but that’s about it. This is a lovely film for the whole family; it takes place in the 1970s and feels as if it was made then, too. But in classic Disney tradition, it’s about an orphan. Pete (Oakes Fegley) lost his parents at a very young age, and has been raised in the forest by his only friend: a furry, green dragon he named Elliot. When a forest ranger (Bryce Dallas Howard) discovers him at age 11 and brings him home, he struggles to adjust to civilization while trying to protect his magical pal from loggers who want to capture him for their own glory. Lowery’s pacing is unhurried and he uses wordless sequences efficiently to tell his story. The relationship between Pete and Elliot is full of both frolic and joy as well as quiet, intimate moments. But in the film’s first few minutes, we do see the car accident that killed Pete’s parents; he survives, then wanders alone in the woods until he meets Elliot. The sense of loneliness and loss is powerful and might be too much for very young viewers. Also, a group of loggers take down the dragon using tranquilizer guns and chain him to a flatbed truck, which also could be disturbing. But mostly, I’d say this is a great choice for viewers around 6 and older.

Watch now on: AmazonFandangoNOW, iTunes


Gremlins (1984) 85%

Rating: PG, for adult situations/language, and violence.

Sure, it’s one of the films that inspired the MPAA to create the PG-13 rating, so it’s probably best suited for slightly older kids. But Gremlins is a fundamental ‘80s movie and it’s a ton of fun. Director Joe Dante’s horror comedy classic follows the mayhem that transpires when a seemingly adorable, cuddly creature is mishandled. You’re not supposed to expose it to bright light, get it wet, or feed it after midnight. But of course, things go horribly, thrillingly wrong, turning the sweet-faced Gizmo into a maniacal fiend who spawns multiple offspring hell-bent on wreaking havoc. (The effects are achieved through puppets, but man, are they creepy puppets.) Understandably, the human response to this calamity is equally intense. Gremlins turns violent and contains quite a bit of language. Still, this is a blast of a choice for viewers around 10 and older.

Watch now on: AmazonFandangoNOWiTunes


Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (2001) 81%

Rating: PG, for some scary moments and mild language.

If your kids are new to the whole Harry Potter universe and you’re looking to introduce them to it, at least in film form, why not start from the beginning? The first couple of movies in the series – and especially the first one – are quite sweet and gentle. There’s plenty of magic to be found, and the villains and dark themes begin announcing their presence. But for the most part, director Chris Columbus’ film is all about ushering us into Rowling’s rich world. Plus, it’s just such a hoot to see these now-established actors when they were still young unknowns. You know the story – I won’t waste your time with it here. The orphaned Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe), living miserably with his oppressive aunt and uncle, discovers he’s a wizard and is whisked away to the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Harry gets his own pet owl, whom he names Hedwig, and begins his close friendship with the towering Hagrid (Robbie Coltrane), who manages many of the fantastic beasts as Hogwarts’ groundskeeper. Among the creatures Harry and his friends encounter are a baby dragon named Norbert and a three-headed dog ironically named Fluffy. The Harry Potter movies improve significantly from here, but Sorcerer’s Stone is certainly a great place to start for viewers around 7 and older.

Watch now on: AmazonFandangoNOWiTunes

Tag Cloud

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