Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald overpromises and under-delivers

Film Grade: 👍👍

“This movie promised us two things: Fantastic beasts, and Grindlewald committing crimes. The film gave us neither.” 

The first Fantastic Beasts, love it or hate it, was a fun, focused movie with two key storylines. Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne) accidentally releases adorable, magical animals into New York and has to track them down with a likeable sidekick: think Jumanji-meets-National Treasure-meets-Pokemon Go. Meanwhile, we get to explore the American magical world in the 1920’s and discover the Obscurus, a dark force which comes from the suppression and neglect of witches or wizards magical powers. We hear whispers of the dark wizard Grindelwald, who appears in the last few minutes of the film as the controversial hire, Johnny Depp. The first plotline, which acts as a vehicle for Newt & Co’s character developments, winds down as the second, more interesting plotline ramps up. This gives the two leading men, Eddie Redmayne and Ezra Miller, time and space for us fall in love with them.

The second Fantastic Beasts didn’t have any of that. No multi-plot beat sheets which allow for tonal shifts, no subtle exploration of interesting characters by enduring actors. There weren’t even any cute beasts to merchandise.

Worse still, Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald, doesn’t even feature Grindelwald committing any crimes! Literally. He chatted to some people, gave a 10-minute speech, and walked away when someone killed a baby. If I didn’t know any better, I would’ve thought David Yates (director) wanted to paint Grindelwald in the image of Jeremey Corbyn, someone who is always “present, but not involved”.

As a self-confessed Harry Potter fan, my issues with this movie are two-fold: firstly it doesn’t do what the title said, and secondly, it wasn’t very good.

Without going into the pacing issues, which meant that the ending was the most confusing thing, my largest complaint is how this movie shits all over the character development they had so carefully built up in the first Fantastic Beasts and the previous eight Harry Potter movies.

The decisions and actions taken by Queenie and Dumbledore are frankly bizarre compared to their previous iterations. In fact, almost every character (with the exception of a laborious few) all jump from one situation to another without any explanation or consistency. When you consider that an additional ten named characters were added to this movie with their own motivations and backstories, this disregard for individual storylines becomes nothing more grandiose than poor, lazy storytelling.

In short, this movie reeks of a franchise start-up. I genuinely struggled to sum up the grossly discreet scenes into some version of a story. Without a clear story, it stands to reason that it can’t have a satisfactory (or understandable) ending for the next four+ films to build upon. The key actors were compelling, but the script was disappointing.

Recommendation: Go back in time and make a better movie.

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