Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald review
Harry Potter, Harry Potter, Harry Potter. I've written about Harry Potter many times before, and this won't be much different other then the film itself. It's amazing that after seven novels, a couple of spinoffs and the eight film adaptations, the wizard world of Harry Potter is still as attractive as it was ten years ago. Wizards are nothing new, not even in book format, but with the way author J.K. Rowling put the focus on a child entering into that world, she broke into every child's curiosity about a place that's hidden from modern society. We never want to believe the world is as it is and want it to have something we cannot explain; magic.
It makes sense that the author would want to build the Wizarding World further by establishing more history and lore. In fact, the original Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them was not a bad starting point. I like the 1920's setting. I liked how it was set in the United States. I even like Newt Scamander as a character, even though his journey in that movie wasn't really his. Perhaps a sequel can correct that in Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald.
An evil wizard from the first movie Grindelwald (played by Johnny Depp) manages to escape prison while being transported. Wizard zoologist Newt Scamander (played by Eddie Redmayne) at the same time is trying to get his travel rights reinstated, but is denied when he refuses to join the Ministry of Magical when he's asked to join his brother in locating a powerful but dangerous child Credence (played by Ezra Miller). Though he remains firm about being on his own, a visit from a young Albus Dumbledore (played by Jude Law) changes his mind. A lot of it is also because wherever Credence is, Newt thinks that he'll find auror Tina (played by Katherine Waterston).
Before he leaves, he's visited by Tina's sister Queenie (played by Alison Sudol) and muggle Jacob (played by Dan Fogler). An argument over muggles being able to marry magic people forces Queenie to leave. Everyone seems to be traveling to Paris, where Credence is located. But it also happens that Grindelwald is searching for Credence, where he hopes he can use the boy's unstable power to rise in power. Sides are taken as Newt, Tina, Grindelwald, and the Ministry of Magic race to see if they can prevent a wizard war.
It pains me to say that Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald is the first genuinely bad Harry Potter movie. I should probably start with the story. Not only does this have to do little with Newt Scamander, but a lot of the plot with Grindelwald and the conflicts over having to hide the magic world doesn't make the story feel important. In fact, a lot of the stakes are so low that the real crime of the movie is that it's boring. It takes too long to get going ( I swear, the plot itself doesn't start till halfway), it pads out more then needed (much time is spent talking about the same morals), and the ending drags on forever (a lot is on Grindelwald making a windbag speech).
I'll give some credit to the actors like Eddie Redmayne, Dan Fogler, and Johnny Depp for playing their parts the best they could. My favorite has to be Jude Law as a young Dumbledore, who brings a lot of needed charm. It's just a shame he has little to do with the story. You could have cut him out and it would have not changed the story. I would love to see a spinoff about a young Dumbledore on his own adventure.
But what about this adventure? The other big problem is that because the stakes is on everyone finding this one guy, what is Newt learning on his journey? That it's important to take sides. This takes a very grey series that only had a few established bad guys, and makes it painfully black and white. The biggest shame is that it's all in the screenplay's faults, which was written by J.K. Rowling. It feels like three ideas for stories crammed into one and that this only serves to set up future movies without being a good one on it's own.
I'll give this one and a half broken wands out of five. This is a major disappointment within the world of Harry Potter. You're better off watching the original movies. This is a movie that feels cursed then entire way.