Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald hits theaters on Nov. 21, but many professional critics have gotten an advance look. Taking a look at their reactions as a whole, the movie is not going to blow anyone away. Reviewers seem to agree that the Harry Potter prequel has too little magic, too many callbacks and references and too much Johnny Depp. The average of all these answers now add up to a 57 percent score on Rotten Tomatoes.
In a review for The A.V. Club, A.A. Dowd described The Crimes of Grindelwald as "the movie-shaped equivalent of memorabilia." In a review for the New York Times, Manohla Dargis wrote that the movie is "an embarrassment of riches, and it's suffocating." Even in more positive summations, all of these critics seem to agree that there is too much story for the film.
Crimes of Grindelwald is the second in what is planned as a five-movie franchise. According to those who have written about it, this is clear in the film. While the first Fantastic Beasts stood on its own — except perhaps for the big reveal at the end — this one reportedly does a lot of narrative shifting and exposition to make room for the greater war to come in future movies.
This, apparently, leaves little room for colorful CGI monsters, clever magical spells or the other delights people turn up for. Instead, there is a whole lot of plot-driven violence, establishing of allegiances and spy-movie intrigue.
Still, it is safe to say that lots of Harry Potter fans will love all of that. The movie's reception has not been completely dismal, and people who do not watch movies for a living could still find a lot of joy in it.
The reviews contained few overt spoilers for the upcoming film, though some interesting facts spilled out. As one might have guessed from the trailers, the movie finds Grindelwald (Depp) escaping from custody and gathering supporters, six months after the last movie's conclusion.
Meanwhile, Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne) reunites with Tina Goldstein (Katherine Waterston) and Queenie (Alison Sudol.) With little hesitation, the three of them restore the memory of Jacob Kowalski (Dan Fogler,) and go hunting for Credence (Ezra Miller,) who apparently did not die in the chaos of the last movie's conclusion.
With the momentum of two decades, seven novels, eight movies and billions of dollars behind it, this movie will likely do fine in spite of its early reception. Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald hits theaters on Nov. 21.