‘Fantastic Beasts’ Sequel Generates Mixed Reviews Among Harry Potter Fans


Poster artwork by Warner Bros. Studios

‘Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald’ premiered Nov. 16 bringing fans on a new Dumbledore and Grindelwald adventure.

Iris Valentin, Features Managing Editor

Warner Bros’ “Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald” premiered Nov. 16 in standard definition and Imax 3-D for fans to reunite with their favorite characters for a new adventure.

Fantastic Beasts is a spin-off of the Harry Potter franchise by author J.K. Rowling. The movie brought in an estimated $25.7 million nationwide with an additional $74.3 million internationally in its first week.

The movie features character Newt Scamander returning with his friends Jacob Kowalski, Queenie Goldstein and Tina Goldstein. This time Scamander is summoned by Professor Albus Dumbledore to defeat Gellert Grindelwald and to raise pure-blood wizards such as Credence Barebone against non-magical beings.

There are a variety of new characters–some good, some bad–such as Scamander’s brother Theseus Scamander who did a good job of being the voice of reason for his brother. Whereas the introduction of Theseus Scamander’s fiance Leta Lestrange felt bland because she was the typical character with a troubled past who was misunderstood and her background was confusing and hard to follow.

Composer James Newton Howard reprised his work for the soundtrack, having worked on the first Fantastic Beasts movie. The musical score is filled with familiar tunes from the Harry Potter films such as Hedwig’s Theme, when entering London or Hogwarts. The strings were beautiful and did a superior job capturing the mood of each scene, providing a strong magical backdrop for the film.

The graphics have improved since the last film, spotlighting locations with CGIs (computer generated images) transporting audience members from the streets of Paris to the familiar road at Hogwarts Academy. The last film fell short with the setting being in only one location, New York.

Having so many characters throughout the film was confusing because there were many who didn’t advance the plot or were easily forgotten in the second half of the movie.

While some die hard Harry Potter fans only saw the movie as an easter egg hunt that referenced the franchise, these fans will be hard to please because every new movie will always be seen as a spin-off of the first movies.

“But while the original ‘Harry Potter’ saga achieved a magnificent balance between the heart-pounding and the thought-provoking, the ‘Fantastic Beasts’ spin-off universe still struggles to find such sure footing,” film critic Roger Ebert said in his Nov. 16 review.

Students agreed but also expressed curiosity about the direction of the new franchise.  

“As a pretty big Harry Potter fan I had some issues with the plot,” sophomore Alexia Moser said.  “Unlike the first movie, this one was connected more to the plot of the original books while setting up for future movies.”