“Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald” (Warner Bros.)

Johnny Depp stars in a scene from the movie "Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald." The Catholic News Service classification is A-II -- adults and adolescents. (CNS/Warner Bros.)

By Catholic News Service

Sharper sequel to the 2016 original, once again set in the 1920s, finds the shy, critter-collecting main character of that film (Eddie Redmayne) caught up in a multisided struggle among powerful forces within the world of wizardry created by screenwriter J.K. Rowling. As the villain of the title (Johnny Depp) schemes against non-magical humans; the only opponent capable of defeating him (Jude Law), mysteriously remains in the background.¬†When not on the malefactor’s trail, the protagonist pursues romance (with Katherine Waterston) and tries to maintain his relationship with his bureaucrat brother (Callum Turner).

Returning director David Yates works up more energy than marked the last outing, though the overly complicated plot and a heavy reliance on special effects and cuddly animals weakens the proceedings. But the magic on display is unlikely to draw even impressionable youngsters toward the dark side and the script promotes tolerance and a preference for peace.

Much stylized bloodless violence, occult themes, some gruesome images, a possible reference to homosexuality. The Catholic News Service classification is A-II — adults and adolescents. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG-13 — parents strongly cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13.

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