Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald is out now, but film fans and Harry Potter fans might be disappointed when they go see it.
About the film:
After the events of the first Fantastic Beasts, Gellert Grindelwald (Johnny Depp) has escaped custody and is once again after Credence Barebone (Ezra Miller). As Grindelwald amasses his following and the schism in the Wizarding World widens, Albus Dumbledore (Jude Law) sends Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne) to find Credence first.
Crimes of Grindelwald has a few redeeming qualities. Redmayne is once again charming and lovable as Scamander. Law and Depp also gave solid performances in spite of the script they were given. And if you’re into learning the history of the Wizarding World, you’re in luck. We’re seeing the evolution of Dumbledore, and the evolution of this world as a whole into the one we read/saw in Harry Potter. There’s even the origin of one of Voldemort’s Horcruxes that fans should enjoy.
Unfortunately, that’s all this movie is. It’s all just Easter eggs, exposition, and set-up for the rest of the series. Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald is not a film of its own. What we get instead is a slow, disjointed, and frankly boring trek to an Empire Strikes Back ending.
Nothing really happens throughout this whole film, despite the 134 minute runtime. We just hop from place to place, seeing a string of scenes that loosely tie together. As a result, we don’t get a chance to care about any of the characters, and major “character-defining” moments don’t land.
On top of the pacing issues and lack of plot, the script has some dialogue issues, as alluded to earlier. A lot of moments that are supposed to have emotional impact just come off as cheesy, further isolating the audience from these characters they’re supposed to like.
The Fantastic Beasts films have a ton of potential. There’s a large section of the fandom, myself included, that want to learn the history of this world. We want to see how Dumbledore defeated Grindelwald and got the Elder Wand. However, first and foremost, J.K. Rowling and director David Yates need to focus on making fun, interesting movies that can stand on their own. They need to develop these characters and give us a reason to care about them. The Harry Potter books and movies all tied together, but you could also pick up any one of them and enjoy it on its own. These prequels need to do the same, instead of falling victim to the “set-up future movies” plague that’s infecting franchises.
The first Fantastic Beasts, while enjoyable, didn’t recapture the spirit of the Harry Potter series. Crimes of Grindelwald gets even further away. But perhaps now that all of this exposition is out of the way, we’ll get a more interesting third film, one that evokes the same sense of magic and wonderment that even the darkest Potter stories had.