Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald Review
Release Date: November 16th 2018
PG-13: Some sequences of fantasy action
Warner Bros. Pictures, Wizarding World
2 Hrs and 14 Minutes
Dir: David Yates | Writer: J.K Rowling
Cast: Eddie Redmayne, Katherine Waterston, Dan Fogler, Alison Sudol, Ezra Miller, Zoë Kravitz, Callum Turner, Claudia Kim, William Nadylam, Kevin Guthrie, Jude Law, Johnny Depp
In 2016 we all collectively groaned over the plot twist that was Colin Farrell turning into Johnny Depp as Grindelwald. Now, the second of five installments of the Fantastic Beasts series has arrived. Is it as fun as the first or is it just another way for Rowling to milk that damn wizarding cow?
In an effort to thwart Grindelwald's plans of raising pure-blood wizards to rule over all non-magical beings, Albus Dumbledore enlists his former student Newt Scamander, who agrees to help, unaware of the dangers that lie ahead. Lines are drawn as love and loyalty are tested, even among the truest friends and family, in an increasingly divided world.
The VFX team has once again brought this wizarding world to life. For this being the second film in the “Fantastic Beasts” series, it’s still visually enthralling. There are fun action sequences with newly designed creatures that we haven’t seen on screen yet. The creatures fighting each other and the wizards doing amazing feats of magic provide us with compelling visual effects. It also works wonders when Newt interacts with his creatures and hangs around the characters from the predecessor. There are fun sequences here and, while they are sporadic, they’re still exhilarating.
Some of the characters are developed more in this film and the two who stand out the most are Jacob Kowalski and Queenie Goldstein. Their relationship was well established and developed in the previous film, but now they’ve taken it a step further. The film tries so hard to find an emotional core, and their relationship and where it goes is the only subplot you resonate with.
Jude Law is Dumbledore and his performance captures the essence of the character we know all too well. Still, nobody knows Dumbledore more than his creator J.K Rowling (who wrote this screenplay on her own) and out of all the recognizable characters from her Harry Potter world, Dumbledore makes a decent addition to the story. I’ll delve into details later in the review, but Law provides that charm we are familiar with and excels thoroughly at it.
For this being the second installment of a spin-off/prequel franchise, there is not much going on storywise. The film is called “The Crimes of Grindelwald” yet the film spends the majority of its time being a damn mess by composing subplots that don’t really go anywhere or mean anything. There came a moment where I couldn’t keep track of how many storylines were present so I had to make a list:
Jacob and Queenie’s relationship
Credence starring in the Dr. Seuss adaptation of “Are You My Mother?”, for he and Nagini go search for his mom
Newt trying to stop Credence while searching for Tina
Tina trying to stop Credence
Leta Lestrange and her inner demons
Dumbledore looking back on his past
Grindelwald scheming to have Credence to join him and his culty children of the Grindel group
The list of subplots goes on and on (and on and on and...) so by the time we hit the climax, you pretty much just give up and:
Keeping up with an excessive amount of subplots is like having a shit ton of tabs open on your browser. Because you have way too many tabs open, your computer’s processor will slow down and become sluggish. That concept applies to this movie. Because of the many subplots, the film feels so dull and not even the flashbacks and long sequences of pointless exposition for characters who are underdeveloped can fix it. The film is a little over two hours long and I swear about 15-20 minutes overall are dedicated to flashbacks and characters giving exposition. It's the second movie and you want to incorporate an origin story for someone who doesn’t have any dimension or a major role?
There are so many things going on with various characters but, at the same time, nothing is going on during the narrative so you don’t feel any real sense of threat or urgency. The narrative is mostly a retreaded continuation of the first film, but with Johnny Depp’s face planted on screen, the change of setting from America to London and Paris, and fan service characters.
If you are a spin-off you better spin the fuck off and not remind me of the franchise you rooted from, because when you do, we lose interest in the current series and start thinking about that main franchise. “The Hobbit” trilogy semi-succeeded because there was enough useful material and it barely relied on fan service.
Damn it, J.K Rowling. You were so afraid that this universe wasn't viable enough that you added characters we’re familiar with to make them part of a story that has no real purpose. Dumbledore is a good addition to the series, and Law is good at his role, but Voldemort’s snake Nagini has no reason to be here. The final straw is having a young Dumbledore present and traveling to Hogwarts. Because of the inclusion of recognizable characters and settings, which serve nothing to the narrative and are truly nothing but fan service, you care less about the story at hand and just reminisce about Harry Potter.
Establishing these familiar characters should’ve presented the opportunity to show another side of them we haven’t seen before. What I have in mind is Dumbledore’s queerness, which is a fact that Rowling acknowledges, but never has the courage to display. All you get is a slight hint and it’s frustrating. The past relationship between Dumbledore and Grindelwald appears to be romantic and allures you to believe, but what it’s also depicted as a sort of friendship similar to Magneto and Professor X and you honestly don’t want that. You want what has been claimed for years by Joanne which is gay Dumbledore!
We’re now two movies in and I don’t really care about Newt Scamander as a character. I know he is a neurotic outcast who is autistic and I respect him for being the face of a franchise, but there’s just not much to him. Even when you see his childhood in Hogwarts and the inclusion of a brother, they play it safe and don’t go in depth with his character. But hey, I’m so glad I saw this in IMAX so I could understand what it is that he’s always mumbling about. There isn’t much to Tina and Newt’s subplot that furthers their relationship because their only conflict is rooted from an absurd misunderstanding about a newspaper.
Dull, forced, and lacking the spark of magic of Rowling’s Wizarding World, “Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald” is an unexciting sequel that relies on fan service instead of developing a solid narrative. And you want us to sit in for three more of these? That’s riddikulus.
Rating: 2/5 | 44%
Super Scene: Beast Battle at the library.