Ok I reviewed Fantastic Beasts a couple of years ago, I didn’t review it too well if you recall. I didn’t say it was a bad film, in fact if anything I thought it was a good film, but it wasn’t as great as many people made it out to be. I also confirmed at the end of that review that the sequel had already been confirmed, and well here we are. I personally didn’t see the need for a sequel since the story was pretty conclusive and it would probably benefit more if they had done another sort of story, but all things considered, it wasn’t a totally terrible idea.
The film once again is written by J.K. Rowling herself and is directed by David Yates who has been the pretty consistent Harry Potter director since Order of the Phoenix. Now David Yates is not a bad director, I think he was the right director to helm the final few Harry Potter films, but his success outside of Potter has been rather mixed. In fact, I actually reviewed his Tarzan reboot which I thought was mediocre at best.
I have discussed my thoughts on Harry Potter in the past, in case you are unaware, I am not the hugest fan of Harry Potter but it has some good qualities.
The Crimes of Grindelwald is a plot that takes place just as soon after the first Fantastic Beasts. Grindelwald played by Johnny Depp has broken out of his captivity from America and has made his way to Europe, more specifically he’s gone to Paris. Newt Scamander, after his run in, in New York aka the last movie, played once again by Eddie Redmayne has been banned from international travel, unless he joins a ministry of magic which he has since refused. Albus Dumbledore, played by Jude Law, has requested to go and deal with Grindelwald, and after finding out that the sisters from the previous film are both in Paris decides to take Dumbledore up on his offer.
How do I put this…? I wasn’t a big fan of the first Fantastic Beasts film, but man is the second one just a slog to get through. I’m not joking, this is probably one of the most ill-conceived projects in the Harry Potter cannon to date and its only just shy of The Cursed Child in that regard.
Ok, things I did like about this film. The dialogue is still just as good as the last time. Other than that, there is some decent plot lines and the final act is actually damn impressive, however, this is also where the plots going completely off the rails.
First off there is way too many and I mean WAY too many characters returning from the first Fantastic Beasts, some of them with no real reason. Considering how controversial it was to keep Johnny Depp in. the franchise at this time, you’d think they would actually have a good reason for Grindelwald to still be a part of the film franchise, but god is his role flat here. It seems like his character has changed motivations between films. In the previous film he was pretty much a dark wizard out for power, in this one he’s sort of become this sort of wizardry world, Donald Trump style, cult leader and sort of prototype Voldemort. I suspect Rowling is, in the long run, trying to suggest that Grindelwald and his ideology is a pre-curse to Voldemort, but it kind of fails.
The film also brings back characters who have had their plot lines entirely covered. Dan Fogler’s character Jacob is back, who you may remember as the muggle who discovers the wizarding world. He has no reason to be in this film, other than, he’s someone for Newt to talk too. He doesn’t really provide much relevancy apart from some weird sub plot that him and Queenie can’t get married because of some law at this time that forbids muggles, and wizards and witches from getting married. That obviously clearly worked itself out seeing as Hermione’s’ parents are both muggles. The film tries to frame it as if Queenie kind of has a point that Jacob is not stepping up, but he has a valid reason to be worried for her.
Tina Goldstein is back, played by Katherine Waterston again and her role is, well, kind of pointless. The only reason she seems to be in this film is because Ezra Millers character, Credence Barebone, is back, yeah, he somehow survived the last film… Don’t ask me how! And it seems like the film doesn’t want to give an answer to that. His character plot is the most baffling. There is so much time and effort put into his character in this film, that makes absolutely no sense . How did he get to Paris? Last time we checked he was in New York. It’s pretty difficult to transport people there without anyone noticing.
Not to mention the film has to add a lot of new characters and give them parts to play in the storyline. The only one that isn’t really designed to link to the Harry Potter universe as a whole is Newts brother, Theseus, played by Callum Turner who is marrying one of the Lestrange family, Leta, played by Zoe Kravitz who gets an arc of her own in the film. This sets up a decent mystery, but with a kind of poor pay off, which actually come to think of it is this film in a nutshell. Her arc takes up a tonne of time in the last part of this film.
Plus, if you cane to this film thinking you were going to see a lot more of young Dumbledore, erm I wouldn’t get your hopes up. Dumbledore is barely in the film, I think he’s only in the film for like 20 minutes. This film has a run time of 2 hours and 14 minutes, and much like the first film, it out stays its welcome.
Seriously, what is up with the structuring of this film. As I mentioned before it kind of wants to tie itself to the Potter films as a whole, but it actually kind of contradicts itself quite a bit. I’m not sure Rowling is fully aware of all the changes made from book to film, since the two are now starting to contradict each other. For example, Dumbledore makes a big deal about his sister in this film. Now there was a big deal and big explanation about this in the book, but the film version didn’t put as much emphasis on it. Now she does actually give a decent explanation to why Dumbledore and Grindelwald can’t fight each other. I say somewhat decent, its actually full of quite a few flaws but it at least attempts an explanation, rather than the whole, well I’m not in a position to do anything, that I was afraid they were going with.
This films plot structure is just the worst. This film is basically a middle act. I’ll say one thing about Rowling. Rowling is a good writer, but she doesn’t really do a good job of cliff hangers. This has a lot of the same problems as The Half Blood Prince had. Whereas that film was also entirely a middle act with no main end act, there was at least leading to something impactful. Crimes of Grindelwald doesn’t have that luxury. There is only so many places it can actually go, and they would all have to lead back to the events of Harry Potter. Again, it can’t be that close because the film’s set several decades before the events of those books. The film is juggling so many plots all at once, and Newt doesn’t have reason to be in that many of them.
I mean I’ll give some credit to Fantastic Beasts, at least Newt had a reason to stick around for most of that film. This one really kind if forced them into the plot. While the climax to this film is pretty good, it also takes so many leaps in logic, even for a film around wizards.
The performances are still actually alright, again I have to particularly comment on Eddie Redmayne and Dan Fogler who have excellent chemistry. Zoe Kravitz does a pretty good job playing Leta. The real one that everyone wants to know about is Jude Law as Dumbledore, taking on a role that had previously been played by Alec Guinness and Michael Gambon. He does kind of have some of the air of Michael Gambon, and a few of his book qualities, blurring the line between the two continuities. What I mean by that is a lot of his boisterous nature that didn’t quite make it into the film versions is kind of a bit more present and Jude Law is doing his best. The problem is the script doesn’t give him much to work with.
Oh, and in case anyone’s asking, they do make some reference to the fact Dumbledore is now a known LGBT character, but it really doesn’t play much significant’s to the plot. I just thought I would actually mention it so that no one asks me why I didn’t mention it. Honestly you could have probably taken it out of the plot and it wouldn’t have made much difference.
The designs of the beasts are alright, but I’m noticing the marketing more and more with them since the beasts make a comeback. More specifically, the ones that can be sold as toys. This film definitely feels as though it has been hampered by the marketing.
Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald is a sequel that really didn’t do much for me, and it’s a sequel to a film I didn’t have much enjoyment for in the first place. Everything about the film is rather middling to boring and it is a film that never really excited me, and has terrible plot structure which leaves the film juggling too much, most of which was already resolved in the first film, but is needlessly dragged back to sell the film to more of an audience. It is rather ultimately an example of the mediocrity levels which have been reached by several films now, with various studios trying to imitate the success of the Marvel cinematic universe.
The film is saved by some good performances and some alright intrigue, and there are a few little nods to Harry Potter law that will appease the Potter heads. But this is frankly a film I don’t think is going to satisfy anyone.
The film has built to a sequel, meaning this is going to be a trilogy of films. But man, the next film had better improve a lot of its latest faults.
Right next week I had a difficult choice. I had to choose between The Girl in the Spiders web, or the new Robin Hood adaptation. You’ll forgive me that I chose Robin Hood. However, the week after I have a genuine crisis, as there are two films I really want to review. So, I need your help, what would you rather see me review? Creed 2 or Wreck it Ralph 2, Ralph Breaks the Internet. I would genuinely like to know what you thin k would make a better review.
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