Top critical review
The rise of Grindelwald
10 December 2018
"Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them" left a number of plot threads hanging, or tied so loosely that you knew they were going to be unraveled.
And unravel they do in "Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald - The Original Screenplay," which relates the skeleton of the movie, though obviously not the muscles and ligaments that flesh the whole thing out. It suffers from some characters who seem to be included without much of a reason to be (why is Nicholas Flamel in this story?), but gives a pretty good idea of what the film is about.
After six months in prison (or was he?), Gellert Grindelwald escapes from custody and reunites with his followers, hiding out in Paris. At the same time, Newt Scamander is asked by the Ministry of Magic to join their ranks, in order to track down and eliminate Credence Barebone — who somehow survived the attack in New York — before Grindelwald can recruit him. Rumors have grown that Credence is the lost scion of a pureblood family.
But when Queenie and Jacob unexpectedly show up to visit him, Newt learns that Tina is also in Paris. So he finds himself sneaking out of England, into a city both beautiful and dangerous — there’s the lost Obscurus, a mysterious man searching for Credence, and of course Grindelwald and his followers. As the secrets of Credence’s past are unraveled, Newt and his friends find themselves trapped between the Ministry and Grindelwald, with shocking consequences.
The actual script for “Crimes of Grindelwald” is written in a pretty solid style — Rowling writes nimble dialogue and some pretty evocative descriptive prose, although she doesn’t usually provide too much detail about individual shots unless they’re very vividly realized (such as the eye-tentacle). This is the skeleton of the film, without some of the more magical details and sequences that make it come to life.
However, the story is kind of weak in some ways — a great deal of it felt like it was setup for the remaining chapters of the “Fantastic Beasts” series, moving the characters into place so that they can engage in some serious conflict. Not a lot is actually accomplished in the plot, but there’s a lot of background information revealed, and characters joining their sides and preparing to do battle in the future.
The characters are also a mixed bag — the twitchy but brave Newt is joined by the tragic Leta and his more heroic-looking brother Theseus. We’re also introduced to a younger Dumbledore, who has his own reasons for not fighting Grindelwald personally. However, a lot of the female characters are treated rather shabbily here — Leta is dismissed almost casually from the film, Nagini just sort of floats after Credence, and Queenie’s increasingly morally questionable actions make her seem stupid or mentally unhinged.
"Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald - The Original Screenplay” gives readers a pretty decent idea of what the movie will be built around, and the strengths — and weaknesses — that fans will find there.