The characters struggle, in-particular our lead of Newt Scamander, who is plain, like a video-game character left on his default-settings. One could continue the comparison to Harry Potter, if they wanted, but unlike Harry, who had Ronald, Hermione, and some truly wonderful supporting-characters to liven things up while Harry acted as the relateable everyman, Newt's dry character is side-by-side with equally ho-hum character-roles. It isn't all disagreeable, as I found some scenes with Jude Law as Albus Dumbledore to be enjoyable, and I liked the proposed dynamic between him and Grindelwald. However, that doesn't change the fact I fundamentally don't care or feel made to care about anything at all in this film. I don't care about the Queenie and Jacob subplot, and I feel like their characters could be discarded for a tighter, more streamlined film. I'm never made to care about Credence as a character, and thereby, feel no reason to care about his origins. They don't feel like characters in a world, they feel like cogs in a machine. Like the film is going through the motions, checking off bullet-points, too busy getting geared up for Fantastic Beasts. It's a phrase everyone will use if they criticize Beasts, but it really does feel like it has lost all magic.
A speech given by Gellert Grindelwald at the film's home-stretch is what I enjoyed most about the film. His ideologies aren't anything very innovative or insightful. Usually any time someone's presented as a dictator, they throw out a few lines that vaguely resemble Hitler's, and their followers slap on arm-bands that resemble the Nazis. Grindelwald doesn't offer new subtleties or intricacies, but Depp delivers considerably on his execution. It's my favorite part of the film, and I'm still criticizing it more than praising it.
The special-effects are large and expensive, but I can't say that's what ever had this film-franchise on my radar. Wands shooting out magical light-beams and large, “fantastic” beasts brought down in anticlimactic, light-heart ways.
In the end, maybe some others will enjoy Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald. I hope they do. I don't claim to be an arbitrator on whether a film is good or bad, but someone who watches films and walks out of the theater with thoughts I'd like to share. From my perspective though, Fantastic Beasts 2 is a busy, overly-complicated film, too focused on the series' endgame than itself, bloated with unnecessary, dull subplots, and woven-together with a sentimentality that depends on familiarity to the characters of its superior series predecessor.