Rather than create an actual film with a plot line, “Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald” simply serves as an in-between film to stretch out a franchise into more and more sequels.
The story picks up a few months after the culmination of the first film. Gellert Grindelwald (Johnny Depp) succeeds in breaking out of detainment by the Magical Congress of the United States of America and begins accumulating more followers and searching for Credence, the young and powerful wizard struggling with identity issues while traveling around Europe in a magic circus.
Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne) is also searching for Credence at the request of his former Hogwarts professor Albus Dumbledore (Jude Law), though we don’t find out until later why Dumbledore couldn’t find Grindelwald himself. Newt is joined by old friends such as Jacob Kowalski (Dan Fogler), Queenie Goldstein (Alison Sudol), Leta Lestrange (Zoë Kravitz) and Tina Goldstein (Katherine Waterson).
To put it plainly, the film has no real plot — there is no climax or culmination of any kind. Superficial storylines and a plethora of “she likes him, but he likes someone else” relationships cloud any actual storyline. Unnecessary drama tries to distract from the fact that there are no good action scenes.
Characters are introduced that serve no real purpose to the plot like Nagini (Claudia Kim), Credence’s serpentine Maledictus love interest. Though she had no real impact on the second film, I remain hopeful that her storyline will expand and give us a look as to how she became Voldemort’s pet and horcrux.
The film lightly touches on Dumbledore’s possible same-sex relationship with Grindelwald. J. K. Rowling first spoke about Dumbledore’s sexuality over 10 years ago. I hope future sequels will expound on this storyline because let’s be real — who doesn’t want a gay storyline between Jude Law and Johnny Depp?
The film demonstrates stunning advancements in animation and CGI through the old and new fantastic beasts themselves. Fan favorites such as greedy Nifflers and needy Bowtruckles make a reappearance from the first film. A plethora of new beasts are introduced in "Crimes of Grindelwald," including a powerful yet adorable cat/Chinese dragon hybrid named Zouwu.
The true measure of "Crimes of Grindelwald" lies in what the franchise does with future films. Rowling abandoned her original idea of only creating three films and is expanding "Fantastic Beasts" into a five-movie series. If the rest of the films are action-packed and tie up the dozens of loose ends, I believe there is hope for the Fantastic Beasts franchise.