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Non-Review Review: Fantastic Beasts – The Crimes of Grindelwald

Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald knows its audience.

The Crimes of Grindelwald is a film consciously aimed at the audience member who has charted and navigated the family trees of the Harry Potter franchise, who knows the finer details of families that were never explicitly featured in the original series and who can recognise names that were never spoken aloud. This is a film that is geared towards the kinds of fans who devour supporting material, who pour enthusiastically and endlessly over the appendices to The Lord of the Rings.

Law student.

This is not to mock or belittle those sorts of fans. Indeed, there is something infectious and exciting in that enthusiasm, in standing outside a cinema and hear enthusiastic six-year-olds with a much better grasp of the dynamics at play than the adults who accompanied them. The eagerness with which these fans pour over the finer details is genuinely heartening, and some of it might even be absorbed by osmosis as they boast about “when” they “got” some twist or other. This a movie aimed at those who devour scenes of exposition and love a good flashback or six.

The only issue is that The Crimes of Grindelwald has precious little for the more casual audience member, whether the casual cinema-goer who just wants a night full of wizards and witches or the more relaxed fan who has only watched the films or read the books once a few years ago. For those audience members, The Crimes of Grindelwald does not offer nearly enough. Or it offers too much.

Partially wanted for crimes against fashion.

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Non-Review Review: Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is a solid piece of popcorn entertainment.

It is, to be clear, just a little overstuffed. Its cast is so large that it borders on unwieldy. Its runtime is just a little bit bloated. It devotes far too much time and energy to setting up movies that will be released over the next couple of years. It is a surprisingly dark movie for a film that seems to set a whimsical tone. Its central metaphors get a little muddled. Its version of America feels like it has been stitched together by a collection of anthropologists who have access to well-worn copies of King Kong and Citizen Kane.

Suits you, sir!

Suits you, sir!

Still, there is an undeniable charm to Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, a movie that luxuriates in the chance to explore a familiar universe through a different perspective. Given the success of the franchise in all media, it was inevitable that audiences would get “an American Harry Potter.” In fact, it could be argued that there have been any number of ill-fated attempts over the years including films like Mortal Instruments. If “an American Harry Potter” was to be inescapable, there are worse options than Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them never quite matches the height of its parent franchise, but occasionally manages to recapture some of the magic.

Wizzing around the world.

Wizzing around the world.

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