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FANTASTIC BEASTS: THE CRIMES OF GRINDELWALD (2018) – My rating: 8/10

Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald is a fantasy film directed by David Yates and written by J. K. Rowling. A joint British and American production, it is the sequel to Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (2016). It is the second installment in the Fantastic Beasts film series, and the tenth overall in the Wizarding World franchise, which began with the Harry Potter film series.  The plot follows Newt Scamander and a young Albus Dumbledore as they attempt to take down the dark wizard Gellert Grindelwald, while facing new threats in a more divided wizarding world. If you’re a Harry Potter fan, you’ll love this sequel.

**** SOME SPOILERS BELOW ****

Fantastic Beast: The Crimes of Grindelwald is set in 1927 with the Magical Congress of the United States of America (MACUSA) transferring the powerful dark wizard, Gellert Grindelwald (Johnny Depp) from their maximum security prison to London to be tried for his crimes in Europe. While departing New York City, Grindelwald is freed by his follower and MACUSA employee, Abernathy (Kevin Guthrie). Grindelwald kills the guards and escapes.

Three months after Grindelwald’s escape, Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne) appeals to the British Ministry of Magic to restore his international travel rights, lost during his visit to New York City. While at the Ministry, he meets with Leta Lestrange (Zo Kravitz), an old Hogwarts friend who is now engaged to his Auror [a position equivalent to a cop against magic] brother, Theseus Scamander (Callum Turner). The Ministry of Magic offers to restore Newt’s travel rights if he agrees to work for them, alongside Theseus, in locating the Obscurial Credence Barebone (Ezra Miller), who has resurfaced in Paris. Many suspect that Credence is Leta’s long-lost brother, Corvus Lestrange, the last of a long pure-blood line of wizards. Grindelwald believes Credence is the only person who can kill his living equal, Hogwarts Professor Albus Dumbledore (Jude Law). When Newt declines, not wanting to choose a side, the Auror Grimmson (Ingvar Eggert Sigurðsson) is dispatched in his place. After leaving the Ministry, Newt is summoned by Dumbledore, who also asks Newt to locate Credence in Paris.

When Newt returns home, his American friends, Queenie Goldstein (Alison Sudol) and Jacob Kowalski (Dan Fogler) have unexpectedly arrived. Jacob has retained most of his memories from the 1926 events in New York City because MACUSA’s city-wide Obliviating order only erased memories from people who had bad ones.  Jacob’s memories stayed in tact since his were mostly good.  Queenie tells Newt that her sister, Tina Goldstein (Katherine Waterston), is in Paris searching for Credence and she and Jacob have followed her to Europe. Queenie also reveals that Tina believes Newt is betrothed to Leta Lestrange after reading a newspaper article announcing their engagement.  Newt explains that the paper confused him with Theseus. After Jacob and Queenie quarrel about the marriage ban between wizards and Muggles, Queenie, upset, leaves to find Tina. Hoping to reconcile with the women, Newt and Jacob follow them to Paris.

While the plot is fairly simple, Crimes of Grindelwald gets pretty involved with complicated subplots.  From the search for Credence in Paris to accidentally freeing animals and Credence’s birth mother search, it’s hard to keep up.  Many characters, join the film making it slightly more complicated.  There are strange animals and ruthless murderers also adding to the twists and turns of this movie. You really have to be a fan in order to fully enjoy Crimes of Grindelwald.  While I thought I was a fan, I was unable to make complete sense of all that was happening.  I did enjoy the cinematography and the fashions and most of the plot, despite the abundance of cast and over the top story twists.  The action was plentiful as was the special effects.  The acting was brilliant and many of the characters were British.  If you’re taking your youngster(s) to see Crimes of Grindelwald, you may have some explaining to do, or they may be explaining the movie to you — Overall, I think Crimes of Grindelwald is a pretty good flick, –Check it out!