Our first look at “Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald” has arrived, in the form of a photo of Newt Scamander (played by Eddie Redmayne), reunited with his friend Jacob Kowalski (Dan Fogler).
This picture is good news for fans of the adorable bromance that the pair developed in the first movie, especially as all evidence seems to suggest that this new movie will shift away from the pair in favor of focusing on Johnny Depp’s character.
One has to wonder, though, how, this movie will actually succeed in justifying Jacob’s return. One of the more beautiful, bittersweet moments in the first movie sees Jacob, a muggle (we’re not calling him a No-Maj, because it sounds dumb), forced to endure a memory wipe so that all traces of magic can be erased from his brain.
As lovely as this scene is, it does make things more difficult for the sequel. “The Crimes of Grindelwald” is going to have to spend some time, “Men in Black 2” style, trying to get a mind-wiped character caught up to speed on all of their adventures from the first film, before the story can actually progress anywhere.
Take into account the fact that Newt and his allies are a smaller part of the story this time around, and there may not be much opportunity to actually insert Jacob into the story in a meaningful manner.
This would be a shame, as Jacob is such a wonderful character – charming and dedicated to helping his friends despite a fundamental lack of understanding of the wider magical world that he’s stumbled into.
Essentially, he’s the Harry Potter of the first movie, reacting with wonder and awe on behalf of the audience, while everyone around him dismisses fantastical sights as humdrum and mundane.
In truth, it probably would be better if this sequel focused more on Jacob, Newt, and their friends, rather than all the icky business with Grindelwald. We’ve seen plenty of epic battles against dark wizards in this universe already, and it would be nice to get a little more of the fantastic beasts that are promised in the title.
Unfortunately, JK Rowling seems disinterested in exploring this kind of story, instead wanting to fall back on tropes that she’s used in her writing since the beginning.
More “Harry Potter” style fun is fine and all, but “The Crimes of Grindelwald” would be a lot more appealing if it was to be less about unspeakable evil, and more about goofy adventures starring the loveable Dan Fogler.