A Brief History
On November 15, 2018, we bring to you good news and bad news about screening the latest Harry Potter universe major film, Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald. The good news is the $200 million spent on producing the film was money well invested as the movie is first class in every way. Plus, fans of the Harry Potter magic universe will find a logical progression and development of characters and story line, undoubtedly enjoying every minute of this latest installment of the franchise. The bad news, if you could call it that, is people not familiar with the Harry Potter universe story line will find it hard to understand what is going on, with the film not likely to succeed on a “stand alone” basis. The movie opens across the United States November 16, 2018.
Well directed by David Yates, the JK Rowling story is the sequel to the highly successful 2016 blockbuster Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. As always in the JK Rowling derived films, the casting is spot on, the cinematography is great, the special effects are state of the art and the movie is just an all around expertly put together film. The mood set in this latest edition changes direction from the more light-hearted tone of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them and The Crimes of Grindelwald presents a much more tense, dark, and serious atmosphere. Fighting, death, and the fate of the world hang in the balance and the mood is much more somber, though there are a few lighthearted moments. The Fantastic Beasts part of the film are indeed fantastic, and fans of the magic universe will surely find them endearing.
In speaking with fellow audience members of the pre-screening of the film, we found that people that have read the JK Rowling books and/or have seen the previous movies were really into this latest film, while first time observers not familiar with the characters and story line were a little lost. Of course, the high quality of the movie makes for an entertaining movie watching experience regardless of the watcher’s level of Harry Potter knowledge, especially the great special effects. The Crimes of Grindelwald moves along at a pretty good pace, with little opportunity for the audience to get bored. The film ends with an obvious need to segue into the follow on story to keep the plot line continuous. The consensus was to see the film in 3D if available.
Starring Eddie Redmayne as the central character, Newt, and Johnny Depp perfectly cast as the arch villain, Gellert Grindelwald from whom the movie takes its title, the cast if filled with excellent actors, including Jude Law as Albus Dumbledore and Zoë Kravitz as Leta Lestrange. (Kravitz is the daughter of singer Lenny Kravitz.) The 134 minute running time gives plenty of opportunity for each actor to get screen time.
What we liked: Great casting, great cinematography, great special effects (i.e., great Fantastic Beasts as well as other effects), plenty of action. (You know we like action!)
What we were lukewarm about: Overall tone was somewhat dark, plot line convoluted and a little confusing to those not familiar with the JK Rowling/Harry Potter stories.
The verdict: The Crimes of Grindelwald is a big budget, blockbuster film that carries on the progression of the JK Rowling/Harry Potter story line and provides the basis for follow-on films. It is a must see for fans of the cinematic and literary universe and does a great job of entertaining its fans. The movie if fit for audiences of virtually all ages, save perhaps the youngest children that are easily scared by dragon-like monsters. Though not intended as a stand alone movie for first time audiences, even those not familiar with the characters and cinematic universe will probably find the first class action, casting/acting, and special effects entertaining enough anyway. Doing a little research into the premise of the story ahead of time would enhance the viewing experience. We predict the film will easily double its production budget at the box office, probably triple.
Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald is first class family entertainment that gets our recommendation for all audiences. Enjoy!
Questions for students: Did you ever read any of the Harry Potter novels? Also, are you planning on seeing this movie?
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For more information, please see…
Rowling, JK. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them: The Original Screenplay. Arthur A. Levine Books, 2016.
Rowling, JK. Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald – The Original Screenplay. Arthur A. Levine Book, 2018.
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