Like Lily and James Potter's Fidelius Charm, the reviews embargo for Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald has broken and the news is so-so.
Critics are pretty much split on the Wizarding World sequel, which was written by J.K. Rowling and directed by David Yates. Some are singing its praises, while others are equating it with a spoonful of Skele-Gro.
Set in the late 1920s, The Crimes of Grindelwald finds magical zoologist Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne) being tapped by a young Albus Dumbledore (Jude Law) to help curtail Grindelwald's power in Europe. Returning for the ride are Credence Barebone (Ezra Miller), Porpentina Goldstein (Katherine Waterston), Queenie Goldstein (Alison Sudol), MACUSA president Seraphina Piquiery (Carmen Ejogo), and Muggle baker Jacob Kawolski (Dan Fogler).
New characters include Nagini (Claudia Kim), Newt's brother Theseus (Callum Turner), Newt's ex Leta Lestrange (Zoë Kravitz), Vinda Rosier (Poppy Corby-Tuech), Nicolas Flamel (Brontis Jodorowsky), and more.
Per the reviews, some of the positives are the high-end special effects, the long-awaited return to Hogwarts, and—believe it or not—Johnny Depp's Grindelwald, who is being touted as a more iconic villain than Lord Voldie.
But where there is positivity, there is also negativity. Some reviews are bashing the film for too many characters, a messy plot, the casting of Depp, and plain old boredom. In other words, they're claiming the film has no (ahem)...magic.
The good news is that if you're a Potter lover, this movie is 100% for you. And let's be honest, who else are these movies even for?
Rustle up some Butterbeer and read what critics are saying...
"Crimes of Grindelwald also has some serious liabilities, the gravest being a misbegotten performance by Johnny Depp as the villain of the title. But unlike the first installment, which felt like a strained effort to extend Rowling’s brand, this engaging film has a busy, kinetic style of its own ... One of the curious, uninviting choices in the Beasts franchise is its grayish-brown palette, and a flattened, backlot, old-fashioned storybook look." -Caryn James, The Hollywood Reporter
"The noisiest, most rhythmless, and least coherent entry in the Wizarding World saga since Alfonso Cuarón first gave the franchise its sea legs in 2004, Grindelwald feels less like “The Hobbit” than a trawl through the appendixes of “The Silmarillion” — a confusing jumble of new characters and eye-crossing marginalia." -Andrew Barker, Variety
"An excruciating bore just barely enlivened by stray glimpses of Hogwarts, a flicker of gay romance and a menagerie of computer-generated creepy-crawlies, Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald is enough to make J.K. Rowling fans weep in frustration, provided they can even keep their eyes open. Presumably Rowling, her fellow producers and the top brass at Warner Bros. were thinking about those fans — meaning their capacity for pleasure and enchantment, not just their pocketbooks — when they decided to launch a series of prequels to their justly celebrated Harry Potter cycle." -Justin Chang, The Los Angeles Times
"It is just as spectacular as the wonderful opening film, with lovingly realised creatures, witty inventions and sprightly vignettes. But I couldn’t help feeling that the narrative pace was a little hampered, and that we are getting bogged down, just a bit, in a lot of new detail. Having said which: the architectural detail of J.K. Rowling’s creativity is as awe-inspiring as ever." -Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian
"This richly layered story is brimming with colorful new creatures, stunning visual effects, and enough intriguing storylines to fuel the final three entries. Rowling’s screenwriting success here is bolstered by her continued collaboration with David Yates - director of six Potterverse films - whose skill behind the camera brings her words to life with a distinct visual flair." -David Griffin, IGN
"[This] much-improved sequel, Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald, wisely leaves the States for a more otherworldly London and Paris, all the while discovering the heart and drive of this new series ... Grindelwald gives us a proper villain and a purpose for this series of — gulp — five eventual movies." -Johnny Oleksinski, The New York Post
"The second of five planned spinoffs written by Rowling, is a darker and bolder film that intertwines different eras of the Potter mythology and delivers a more relevant cinematic villain than that malevolent snake face, Voldemort. Old-school Potterheads will rejoice, though fans of the charmingly quirky group of heroes from the first Beasts may lament their do-gooders getting lost in a growing magical landscape." -Brian Truitt, USA Today
"Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald is even less concerned with telling a concise, satisfying story than its predecessor. What’s worse is at almost every turn, it weaves in broad strokes created only to set up the next movie, few of which add to what’s actually happening on screen." -Germain Lussier, Gizmodo
"All the problems with repeated story concepts and underdeveloped characters are rooted in the screenwriting, which Rowling now tackles herself. The Harry Potter films were good, sometimes great examples of condensing sprawling books into films that were dense but still alive. Whatever Rowling’s process is here, the result isn’t the same. She’s introducing just as many characters and concepts as in her novels, with far less space to develop them." -Russ Fischer, Birth.Movies.Death
"A stark and sometimes disturbingly dark follow-up to what came before, the second chapter of Newt Scamander’s Jazz Age adventures is leaner and more straightforward. Yet it paradoxically has much more on its mind. To be sure, there’s wizarding wonderment, more suspense than before, and even a few sequences of genuine magic in this finely tuned reaction to the first film’s critics. However, it is also ever so entrenched in the themes that have always driven J.K. Rowling’s darker passions, and now with a heightened urgency since the kind of dark arts she’s warned against have become more pronounced, both on the screen and off." -David Crow, Den of Geek
Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald apparates into theaters Nov. 16.