Fantastic Beasts and The Crimes of Grindelwald (2018)
The Biggest Cinematic Disappointment of My Life
I give this film a 1/5 not only because it disappointed me, but because I genuinely think this is a BAD movie. Fantastic Beasts and the Crimes of Grindelwald is a bad movie. Period, it’s just not good.
Let’s start off with the title. Just because the previous series of films in this world had the name Harry Potter in it, does not mean all of these films need to be called Fantastic Beasts and... it’s long and has little to do with the continuing plot of this series. The first one, sure. This one, no. Harry Potter is the subject of 8 movies, so of course his name will be in the title and there’s no problem with it. The Crimes of Grindelwald forces itself to add an element of “fantastic beasts” because they’re married to a title. The “fantastic beasts” don’t have a major role in the film, and even when they do, I can tell the writers added them in there because...well, it’s the name of the movie so we need to have them there at some point. This film is about Grindelwald, not fantastic beasts.
The characters of Where to Find Them were great. They are ruined in The Crimes of Grindelwald. There is no clear reason as to why Newt Scamander is actually important to the story of Dumbledore vs. Grindelwald. He’s not a great combat-wizard and doesn’t seem to want to have anything to do with it. The bigger problem lies with Tina, Queenie and especially Jacob. Why are they in this movie? Jacob is a muggle who has very little to offer the plot. In this film his sole purpose is to be funny, based on the humor established in the first film. Yet, in the first film he served a bigger role because the audience could learn about this world through him. None of that is brought to The Crimes of Grindelwald. He is only here because fans liked his character. Likewise Queenie, suddenly she is using her powers for bad and is turned to the “dark side”. It doesn’t make any sense and besides having the same name and performer, this is not the same character fans fell in love with. Likewise, Tina. Essentially she’s in this movie because she has a crush on Newt Scamander. That’s about it. Grindelwald is weird and has unclear intentions and motives. He’s not well established over time like Lord Voldem*** was. (Sorry I can’t say his name). Grindelwald is kind of just thrown into the mix and shown to be evil and is said to have this evil plan and is evil and did I mention this guy is evil? That’s pretty much Grindelwald’s characterization in this film. Evil. Just about the only good character in this film is Dumbledore and that’s just because I like Jude Law’s performance. Credence makes no sense. There’s no need to show Nagini and say she was a person before a snake...I don’t care. There are random characters thrown in who have these long monologues trying to explain the story, yet the whole time I have no idea who they are or what their names are. It is SO confusing. If these characters are actually important to the plot, remove the ones that aren’t. Queenie, Tina, Jacob...maybe even Newt. What’s going to happen in the third film? 10 MORE new characters?
Did the producers of this film not think there was a French Harry Potter fanbase? In Where to Find Them the filmmakers establish part of the American Wizarding World and it’s a big selling point for the film. This film takes place in France mostly, yet there’s nothing really shown to depict what the makes this part of the Wizarding World French. If expanding the film series is supposed to expand the world and show what magic looks like in new countries, each country needs to be treated equally in showing what makes that country unique within the Wizarding World. I urge them to be more creative in the future.
If you saw my review of Where to Find Them you’ll know I don’t like the representation of magic in these movies. There is nothing magical about The Crimes of Grindelwald. Eddie Redmayne walking through Paris waving his wand around while CGI particles fade in around him...is not magic. It’s not even cool to look at. It’s lazy filmmaking. I want to see practical effects, some creativity, hear the names of new spells, and feel like something real is happening. It just sucks.
Since when do Harry Potter films end in “oh my gosh this will destroy the entire city”? Sounds like a Marvel Movie and that’s never what these films have been. Action-packed sure, over-the-top danger to a city...no. There’s a huge CGI Fire Dragon at the end of Crimes of Grindelwald and it’s boring, lame and plain bad. The wizards do a coordinated dance move and stab their wands into the ground...wouldn’t they break? Maybe not, but I’m interested to know what that magic is, it’s unfortunate that it’s never explained. The stakes of the Harry Potter films are clearly established and far greater than in Crimes of Grindelwald. You can’t expect to just blurt out that a city will be destroyed and expect me to care, when for the rest of the film I’ve been trying to figure something else out. At least in Marvel Movies, the entire movie is about saving a city from being destroyed, so I can actually latch on to that story point. Here, it’s just blurted out when the dragon randomly appears.
The storytelling here is horrible. It’s supposedly about figuring out who Credence is, and various people have various theories but at the same time Newt and Tina have a thing going, Jacob is there, Queenie is becoming evil, Dumbledore pops up here and there, Grindelwald is being evil, and thensuddenly everyone is all together and they’re talking about World War 2...it makes no sense, there’s not one main plot to hold on to, it’s a messed up jumble of confusing plots, none of which are very good. All the side characters make no sense. It’s unclear how they found each other, why, and what they’re meant to be connected to.
Overall, I can’t tell you how bad this movie is. It doesn’t even look good. The story is awful and so are the characters. I really wanted to like it and like this Fantastic Beasts series, but I can’t. Will I watch it again? No. I’ll watch the third and try to pretend the second never happened. Should you watch it? Not unless you want to give yourself a headache.