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What to know: Fantastic Performances and Visuals.
Recommended age 12-18
134 minutes
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FANTASTIC BEASTS: THE CRIMES OF GRINDELWALD cover image Click to play video trailer
I love all of the stories and plots from J.K. Rowling. She never fails to amaze me with all the different plot twists that she comes up with. Besides having a wonderful follow up story that leaves the audience wanting more, the CGI is very detailed, yet still realistic. The sound immerses viewers even more into the story.

The story starts off with a very intense scene that starts the conflict and trouble. No spoilers though. After the introduction, it picks up three months after Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them left off. We are introduced to Newt's brother who works for the ministry and his fianc´┐Ż who had a childhood crush on Newt. We also discover that Jacob gets his memory back!

Eddie Redmayne comes back to play Newt. He embraces Newts' quirky and kind side perfectly. Dan Fogler and Alison Sudol (Jacob and Queenie) come back even closer as a couple. They fight just like a real couple too. Ezra Miller (Credence) is back, but as an older, mature and independent adult. His ability to portray his rage while staying calm is impressive and also intimidating.

The CGI is quite realistic, but at the same time out of this world. All the different creatures are so unique. I love how immersive the entire experience is. The animation combined with the acting, sets and music allows everyone to enter a different world.

My favorite scene is when Credence transforms into his black, floaty form because he is angered. In this form, he tries to attack one of the wizards who killed the person he was trying to get information from. He uses all his might and strength to attack. He even damages the entire building they are in with his force. Even though Credence is very powerful, he is still unable to pierce the wizard's shield. This scene is very intriguing to me because everything is so detailed. From Credence's liquid, black form to the crushing of the building, everything is very realistic.

There are many different underlying messages in this film. One of them is about family. Newt and Theseus (Newt's brother) haven't always been on the best of terms. For a while they worked against each other because of their conflicting views. But inevitably, they ended up on the same side, because they both have good intentions. And even though they might have done some unforgivable things to each other, they still forgive each other.

I love that this film allows you to enter a new world. It is fantastic! I give it 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 9 to 18. Even adults will enjoy this intriguing film. This film is out now in theaters so go see it!

Reviewed by Jolleen M., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 14

Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald is a serviceable entry in the Harry Potter universe despite its many shortcomings. Fantastic performances and visuals complete some truly great and pivotal plot developments. Any Harry Potter fan might want to check this out, but go with lowered expectations.

The story follows the breakout of influential dark wizard Gellert Grindelwald (Johnny Depp) as he seeks to enlist his army of pure bloods. He starts by manipulating the transformation of Credence (Ezra Miller). All sides are divided by this as many find that killing both will fix the issue and many believe that Grindelwald upholds what is right. All except for the moral Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne) who believes in stopping both but not killing. As a result, a younger Albus Dumbledore (Jude Law) enlists him to work behind the lines as dangerous times approach testing the loyalties and love of all involved.

Eddie Redmayne, as Newt Scamander, is always entertaining with his quirky remarks and unswayable morals. Also, he attempts to reunite with Tina (Katherine Waterston) to humanize his central struggle to find company. Johnny Depp, as Grindelwald, empowers with his powerful voice and fear-inducing actions. His presence holds well even among the likes of Voldemort. Jude Law, as Albus Dumbledore, is my favorite character with a spot-on recreation of a younger Dumbledore even if he's not in it for long. His wise remarks and enthralling character developments only left me wanting more. Zoe Kravitz, as Leta, is one of the most interesting characters with her fair share of story which leaves us craving for more regarding the mysteries of the lore. Katherine Waterston, Alison Sudol, Dan Fogler and Ezra Miller return better than ever with twists and turns further developing their characters, even if a little too much time is spent on their side of the story.

David Yates expertly directs with an eye of awe for each of the magical settings visited. It is always a delight to see the early happenings of events and monuments such as Hogwarts. However, my favorite scene comes from the opening escape which rips and roars with wondrous sound design and sets the precedent for a truly epic villain in Grindelwald. Despite this, the movie comparably falls flat resulting in some boring sections of exposition with forced moments of fan service. The movie feels considerably crowded and in need of a more compelling story in some sections. Despite this, the exceptional first few minutes and last third redeem the story from being a total slump.

The message of the movie is to never lose your morals despite what could benefit you. Newt is a great example of this because he chooses what's right in spite of Grindelwald's powerful way with words. I give this film 3.5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 8 to 18 because of some intense action and themes. The movie releases in theaters on November 16, 2018 so check it out.

Reviewed by Arjun N., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 16

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In an effort to thwart Grindelwald's plans of raising pure-blood wizards to rule over all non-magical beings, Albus Dumbledore enlists his former student Newt Scamander, who agrees to help, unaware of the dangers that lie ahead. Lines are drawn as love and loyalty are tested, even among the truest friends and family, in an increasingly divided wizarding world.
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