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"Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald" Review - (Non-Spoiler)

Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald is essentially a 134-minute trailer for the third installment in this Harry Potter spin-off series but for those not already committed to seeing it through, it'll be an early-than-anticipated curtain call.

The Crimes of Grindelwald's biggest problem is that although JK Rowling is a terrific author, she has trouble transferring into being a screenwriter, especially with this film; she tries to pack in the same amount of plot and characters that she would into a full-length novel, but without the time or resources to explore them efficiently, her writing lacks both depth and quality. Its scattershot and unsubstantial narrative spends more time setting the table for future chapters and therefore neglecting the abundance of characters at their disposal here, a majority of whom are barely developed over this two-hour-plus affair.

Thankfully, despite some disappointingly bland characters, the performances are as strong as they could be. Jude Law and (off-set controversy notwithstanding) Johnny Depp give terrific performances as a young Dumbledore and titular villain, respectively, with the promise of an interesting dynamic to explore moving forward. Eddie Redmayne is charming and the returning cast does a fine job with little to sink their teeth into.

Great production and costume design, as well as impressive special effects, make this a visually captivating experience. James Newton Howard's score is a great presence and works better nostalgically than the shoe-horned Potter references, although returning to Hogwarts is a stroke of fun otherwise lacking in this supposedly "fantastic" follow-up. I'm going to give "Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald" a 5 out of 10.

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