Movie Review of Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes Of Grindelwald


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Grant Wheeler

This film had me conflicted way more than it should have.

I’ve loved the Harry Potter franchise since I was a small child. In fact, Sorcerer’s Stone was the first film my parents took me to see in theaters, so needless to say, I had high hopes for the Fantastic Beasts franchise.

This film was helmed by director David Yates, whose credits included the latter half of the Harry Potter franchise and the first Fantastic Beasts film. The plot of this film— as muddled and discombobulated as it was— follows our protagonist Newt Scamander (who has been reprised by Eddie Redmayne) after his adventures in New York. After reuniting with some familiar faces, his band of misanthrope wizards must come together and try to figure out how to stop the villainous dark wizard Grindelwald (played by Johnny Depp.)

The plot follows all the queues of your conventional prequel installment. People meet up, they have to find items to learn of someone’s past or how to beat them (in this case they decided it would be a good idea to throw in both subplots) and cap it off with a big battle at the end. While not a bad formula if you have all the pieces to make a good film, I unfortunately found myself often asking, “Wait, what are they doing again?” and, “Why do I care about this again?”

It was really painful as a fan of the source material. The first film wasn’t bad, but it didn’t draw me in the way it needed to and I wasn’t terribly interested in the story or the characters— sadly, I’m here to inform you that the second installment suffers the same issues.

I find it absolutely preposterous that someone like me who’s so familiar with the lore still had to Wikipedia the names of characters from the film. None of them stand out other than Johnny Depp’s titular Grindelwad and only in the weird typecast Tim Burton kind of way.

Jude Law also makes his debut as Albus Dumbledore, but the script doesn’t really give him anything to work with that does anything but make the audience go, “Look, a young Dumbledore.”

The film wasn’t the worst thing I’ve ever seen, though. There’s some impressive action sequences and fan service that is sure to please any potterhead. The creatures in the film are interesting and the music is also worth noting. As with all the Potter films, the atmosphere was very well executed and the film introduces us to a host of new additions to the already expansive lore— the problem is I didn’t care as much as I should have.

Maybe I’m being too hard on this film— or maybe the studios in Hollywood have just beat us over the head with formulaic nostalgia trips just to take our money. We can learn a lesson from the Hobbit, Star Wars and now, sadly, Harry Potter franchises. Quit giving these studios your money. Are these franchises really any better off with mediocre sequels and prequels that are just remakes of the originals with different character names? The magic that made the Harry Potter series so definitive and iconic is simply not here— pun intended.

Score: 5/10