Originally published Sunday, November 18, 2018 at 06:30p.m.

“Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald” is a fantastic romp through pre-Potter tales and lore. With a screenplay written by J.K. Rowling, fans of the Wizarding World will be thrilled that extreme love and care has been devoted to the franchise’s past and future. "Potter" veteran director, David Yates, crams the energy, darkness and canon that are equivalent in intensity to those of the Deathly Hallows films into a magical 2-hour tangle of woven stories that are littered with every Easter Egg imaginable. The pace will be adventurous for some. Tedious for others.

Beginning where Beasts left off, the unassuming magizoologist, Newt Scamander (Eddie Remayne), is faced with a decision: Find the Obscurial, Credence Barebone, and regain his international magic travel pass or kiss any vacation plans goodbye after destroying New York in the previous film. It turns out that Credence is a popular bounty and Albus Dumbledore (Jude Law) – the consummate leader of Hogwarts School – also wants Newt to find Credence. Gellert Grindelwald (Johnny Depp),who wants all pure-blood wizards to take their rightful place over all non-magical beings, believes that Credence is the only pure-blood wizard who is strong enough to kill Dumbledore. Naturally, he wants to find him, as well as the Ministries of Magic in the Americas, London and Paris. In a surprise twist, Leta Lestrange (Zoe Kravitz) – who is engaged to Newt’s brother, Theseus – reveals a troubling past. Amdist it all, Newt is more concerned with finding the star of his affections, Tina Goldstein (Katherine Waterson), than battling Credence.

Strong Points

The CGI and cinematography are exhilarating. Both push the envelope on more than merely displaying an effect but actually wrapping an entire scene in gorgeous visual panache. The magical creatures remain delightful except a band of uninspired library cats. There are fun cameos such as Philosopher Stone-crafter, Nicolas Flamel, and youthful versions of your favorite Hogwarts professors.

Jude Law is an admirable young Dumbledore as he exhibits some spy-tendencies with his tragic altruism. While there are many characters and the acting is superb, Zoe Kravitz steals each scene as a woman doused in wicked history but cursed with a generous spirit.

Points of Improvement

Fans of Potter lore will have raised brows on some sticky timeline and literary aspects. Fear not – Rowling has defended all of her decisions and says that all will be explained in future films. Ultimately it’s fun to watch everyday magic used with deft and speed. It’s a delightful turn from watching pimply-faced lads stumble over spells and get their souls sucked out. “Beasts” is grown-folk magic.

For those who are not Potter fans, you will be woefully confused. This is not a film that you can watch without any reference to the previous franchise. Without prior knowledge, the 12+ subplots converge into mind-jelly.

Fans of dark, magical action may be disappointed as the darkness is artfully rendered but never dire or substantially creepy. Foreshadowing to the World Wars, fascism and a fleeting nod to racism are used as battlecries but return jarringly to the safe magical world where magic can protect the special ones.

Feminists will enjoy women at the forefront yet they are mired in the torments of salvation and dutiful sacrifice. One character is stereotyped as the maude/dame who is beguiled easily...or is she?

Just as other franchises have attempted, back stories and historic revelations can answer pressing questions or unravel ambitions that were never meant to be broached.

Fans of all things Potter and magical: 5 out of 5 Magical Beasts

Fans of all things Potter who will nitpick the timeline to bare bones: 3 out of 5 Horcruxes