I will try to leave this movie review to have as few spoilers as possible, but I think it is fair to say that when I finished this movie I had a lot of questions. Some of the questions were extrinsic to the plot itself, such as whether the off-screen drama that had seen problems for such figures as writer/producer J.K. Rowling, former actor Johnny Depp, or actor Ezra Miller (Credence Barebones/Aurelius Dumbledore) had harmed the business prospects of the franchise as a whole and whether there would be enough people who watched this film to see the series through to its completion. Some of the questions, especially at the end of the movie, seemed not to have obvious answers, unless there are future films, as there appear to be some obvious loose ends that might need to be tied up based on what we see. And while there was some disappointment–Ezra Miller was a weak link in an otherwise very strong cast and I wanted to see far more of Katherine Waterston than I did, and I suspect many will find the reason given for her absence to be less than satisfying.
Even so, there was a lot to enjoy about this movie. If you have been with the series so far and didn’t find Crimes of Grindelwald to be a terrible movie, this movie will likely be one that you can mostly enjoy. It has Newt Scamander–here more like a supporting figure to the cunning Albus Dumbeldore, whose skill for making complicated plots but trusting their full details to no one, in classic fashion–with a lot of fantastic beasts. Some of those fantastic beasts play a large role in the movie, and their role is complex. Newt’s own animals, by and large, are trusty members of the group and they have their chance to shine here as key supporting players helping Newt out, who really needs the help sometimes. There are also a few new animal encounters, and they range from lighthearted comic relief which is pretty necessary in a plot that is highly political and often very grim, to moments of genuine terror and violence, all of which underscore the real peril that the characters of this movie are under.
At the heart of this movie are relationships. There are relationships that seem paternal in nature, and that are, even if estranged. There are a lot of sibling relationships that play a major role in this film, and we see some brotherly bonding between both Albus and Aberforth as well as Newt and Theseus in ways that are immensely satisfying. In addition to that, we see both friendship and romantic love play a big role in how the movie works out. A lot of this romance is played rather awkwardly, especially towards the end of the film. This awkwardness is not necessarily a bad thing, though it is rather frustrating just how often Dumbledore seems compelled to admit of his love for Grindelwald and his determination to remain alone, which cuts him off from the general romantic and familial love that form this movie’s emotional ending. If this is really the end of the series, it is a satisfying end, but there is still more to see, if people are willing to see it and make it happen. Even the political aspects of this movie were satisfying, although even here I was left with some questions that may never be answered. But that is life.