The reviews are in, but it’s a decidedly disappointing crop for the second movie in the Harry Potter spin-off series Fantastic Beasts.
Notices for Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald are not celebratory, as Eddie Redmayne resumes his role as magizoologist Newt Scamander. With its Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer rating currently standing at a “Rotten” 58% (just over half reviews for the film are positive), it’s the lowest-rated film in the Harry Potter franchise to date.
Robbie Collin in the Daily Telegraph was notably scathing, calling it ‘the gravest case of prequel-itis since The Phantom Menace‘ in a two-star review.
“Everything about The Crimes of Grindelwald is inward-looking and self-referential: it smacks of an epic join-the-dots game played across reams of unpublished appendices and footnotes,” he added.
The LA Times was equally unimpressed: “It offers up dazzling feats of sorcery and realms of wonderment and manages to conjure the very opposite of magic.”
The New York Times, meanwhile, found J.K. Rowling’s plot impenetrable.
“Rowling has surrendered to her maximalist tendencies and so cluttered up the story that you spend far too much time trying to untangle who did what to whom and why,” it writes.
Mashable reckons: “While it is possible, if you squint very hard, to make out some of the deeper themes at play here… the real driving force behind Crimes of Grindelwald seems to be a burning desire to set up a sequel.”
Empire, meanwhile, calls it ‘bizarrely underpowered’.
It’s not all bad news, however. There are some middling reviews too.
In a three-star review, The Guardian was more forgiving, Peter Bradshaw adding: “This Fantastic Beasts film is as watchable and entertaining as expected and it’s an attractive Christmas event, but some of the wonder, novelty and sheer narrative rush of the first film has been mislaid in favour of a more diffuse plot focus, spread out among a bigger ensemble cast.”
“That the film remains enticing despite its evolving, still-pallid hero speaks to Rowling’s storytelling strengths,” says The Hollywood Reporter.
The Independent, meanwhile, praises the movie’s ‘astonishing level of visual detail and inventiveness’.
But in the main it appears that Mr Scamander has some considerable work to do in the three more movies which are set to make up this franchise.
Starring Eddie Redmayne, Katherine Waterston, Dan Fogler, Jude Law and Johnny Depp, The Crimes of Grindelwald is due out across the UK on November 16.