Oh, brother. Well, just full disclaimer: I still love the genius and creativity of J.K. Rowling’s highly detailed wizarding world, even if I can admit that none of the movies are any good. The high point the cinematic franchise has met was strangely enough, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, which was still average at best. That movie had more organized social commentary with talented actors, plus a main protagonist who unlike Harry has a defined personality. But now with Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald, it takes all the flaws of every movie and makes it even more insufferable to sit through. This continuation of the series has far worse balance between the countless subplots, way messier visuals, much more insufferable acting, and absolute confusion as to what on earth is going on. Seriously, I doubt even Rowling herself had any idea.
Let’s start with the one thing everyone thus far has been complaining about the most: the number of plots. Oh dear, where do I begin? There’s so much going on, there’s pretty much not a story at all. There’s romance between Jacob and Queenie, then Newt and Leta, neither of which are worth caring about. That is, I would be able to care if these romantic moments weren’t shuffled between the so-called arcs of Grindelwald, Tina, Credence and his… girlfriend I guess, a very young Dumbledore, a character mentioned in the original Harry Potter series who here serves no plot significance, some dwarf woman, a US Emissary to the International Confederation of Wizards, like three other men in the Ministry of Magic, honestly, I’m struggling to remember how many of these there are, I hope that’s all of them. Long story short, with all these things just thrown in without a decent editor to balance them out to make you remember them all, they all lose their impact with a snap.
The other issue I had in suffering through this great disappointment is the visuals. Not that they’re bad, as the sets and costumes are still as thoughtfully detailed as they ever have been, it’s just that with the massive amounts of CGI in David Yates’ attempts to make everything as big and awesome as possible, everything just looks and feels like a giant long blur. Seriously, there was digital effects used in almost every frame, most of those frames with the effects taking up well over 75% of the screen space. That would be forgivable if the CGI looked any good, but it doesn’t, it just looks so blaringly fake that the once magical aesthetic of the original series’ more limited VFX approach is lost. It proves how these filmmakers didn’t care about making a truly magical experience, just getting it done before meeting their deadline.
That’s basically the entire reason why this movie exists: to make a big spectacle out of everything. These filmmakers are lost in this magical world that J.K. Rowling is relishing in as their goddess, which makes anything not design work secondary. I mean, that’s pretty much always been their intention since 2001, but now it’s just getting out of hand. In this film, there are scenes focused on a Bowtruckle plucking off one of Newt’s buttons, a Niffler playing around with its babies, and Newt riding a seaweed horse called a Kelpie, none of which has any plot significance other than to look cool. That would be fine if any of it looked good and not just pieces of CGI vomit enhanced by close-up cut-a-millisecond action.
It makes me feel sorry for the actors who had to struggle through this garbage. Eddie Redmayne and Jude Law are the only ones trying their hardest to make something out of their underwritten roles and lack of direction, while everyone else is just phoning it in. You can tell everybody knows the movie is awful, as they all have an expression on their face amplified by the tone of their voices that say, “Ugh, just Avada Kedavra me already.” It’s a shame too, as most of the actors reprising their roles from the first Fantastic Beasts movie gave pretty good performances. Except now, it’s clear that everybody involved in this project just wants the series to end already.
To make things even worse than they already are, the final moments end not on an official conclusion, but a leadup into the next movie. Yup, no resolved character arcs, no satisfying message to leave you off on, no nothing really, just something to tell you, “Hey! Stay tuned for next time! Keep your wallet handy!” Well, for a little perspective, this movie had a budget of around 200 million, and within its first week made about half that amount. Thinking back to other movies that had virtually the same type of ending, such as The Last Airbender and The Amazing Spider-Man 2, yet never completed their franchises, why did they stop? Simple: legal disputes, and not making as much money as anticipated. Then the movie will remain in history as an incredibly awkward, incomplete film with nothing of value. Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald could gladly suffer that same fate, and we won’t have to see three more of these, if you just don’t see this movie and find a better way to spend your life.
If there is a specific movie you’d like to see graded, or if you are interested in guest blogging for my site, please email me at Trevor@TrevorsViewOnHollywood.com for your recommendations.
Have a great weekend, and happy watching!
Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald. Warner Bros. Ent. Web. <http://www.fantasticbeasts.com/>.
Stewart, Sara. “Johnny Depp in ‘Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald’.” Digital image. New York Post. Warner Bros. Pictures, 9 Nov 2018. Web. <https://nypost.com/2018/11/09/his-franchise-is-fantastic-but-is-johnny-depp-a-beast-in-real-life/>.