The crimes of Grindelwho?
The film might be called Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald, but I’ll warn you right now — there’s only, like, two beasts in this entire movie, and neither of them are really all that fantastic.
And if that was the biggest misstep that Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald took, maybe this movie could still be saved, but no. Oh no. There is so much else that doesn’t work.
A prequel to the much beloved Harry Potter franchise, the first Fantastic Beasts film — Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them — was released in 2016 to lukewarm reviews. Personally, I wasn’t in love with the movie but thought it was fine. Just, fine.
Apparently, lukewarm was good enough for Warner Brothers, because it didn’t take long for them to announce that they’d be making FOUR more of these things.
Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald is the second outing in this prequel franchise, once again reuniting us with everyone’s ninth or tenth favorite character in the wizarding world, Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne), and his rag-tag group of friends.
We last left GrindleGuts (Johnny Depp) being taken into custody by the American Ministry of Magic after he revealed himself to be Collin Farrell the whole time (who played this role so much better than Depp did) and tried to declare war against all muggles.
Prison evidently couldn’t hold him for too long, as Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald opens with ole’ GrumpyGoose breaking out of his chains and resuming his war, with his first move being to high-tail it to London as fast as possible.
What’s in London, you might ask? Well, it’s everyone’s 46th or 47th favorite character in the wizarding world, Credence Barebone (Ezra Miller).
Yes, you might have thought we were done with Credence after Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them — Lord knows that I did — but screenwriter J.K. Rowling felt the need to bring him back into the fold again anyway.
What I really mean by ‘back in the fold’ is that he’s barely given ten minutes of screen-time, but the movie is still going to act like he’s a big deal regardless.
GillyWeed isn’t the only one who is chasing after Credence. London’s Ministry of Magic, which Newt’s brother Theseus (Callum Turner) and his fiancé Leta Lestrange (Zoe Kravitz) work for, are also after the boy, as they fear the unlocked power that he holds.
Of course, Newt and his squad — Jacob Kowalski (Dan Fogler), Tina (Katherine Waterston) and Queenie Goldstein (Alison Sudol) — are after him too, resulting in one big race that ends in a whole bunch of poorly edited CGI.
Make no mistake about it, though, our four lead characters are the best part of these Fantastic Beasts movies — when the film actually chooses to focus on them, that is.
I know that Eddie Redmayne gets a good amount of crap online for his performance as Newt, but I actually really like the idea of an introverted hero and think he pulls it off well. Katherine Waterston has always been one of the best things about these movies, and I’m not even mad that they found a way to bring Dan Fogler back into the action (even if their reasoning for why he came back feels all too forced).
What I am mad about, however, is the way that Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald treats these characters for the majority of its 2 hour and 14-minute runtime (which is far, far too long).
Newt’s rivalry with his brother isn’t set-up well at all and results in a really lackluster payoff, Queenie is off doing God knows what for the majority of the film, Jacob is under a love-spell for half the time and is whining about his doomed relationship for the other half and Tina is hardly even in this thing at all.
Altogether, none of them really have much to do, as The Crimes of Grindelwald is instead so focused on the character of GlitterGlue and setting up future sequels.
Which makes for a really boring, convoluted storyline that comes from a director who really doesn’t seem to care about this franchise anymore.
David Yates was great for the Harry Potter movies. He came in right when the books started becoming ultra-long and was able to present all that information in a straight-forward way that made sense to both the fans and newcomers. He didn’t have to lay any of the character or world-building groundwork, because that had already been done for him in the first couple of films.
With Fantastic Beasts, though, he does have to lay the groundwork, at which point it becomes evident he has no idea how to do so whatsoever. Yates presents everything in such a matter-of-fact way that he manages to make the wizarding world — which is one of the more fascinating fictional universes that exists — dull.
Take the idea of a magical circus in the 1920s to quite literally any other director in the world and they’d want to take some time to explore the wonder and fun of that idea. Yates, however, doesn’t linger on it for a second. It’s just a quick plot-point for the characters to visit, making what should have been an awesome scene into a completely forgettable one.
Rowling isn’t off the hook for Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald, either. Obviously, Rowling is great at writing the Harry Potter novels and knows this universe better than anyone. That becomes a problem, though, when she becomes so attached to the property that she doesn’t stop to explain anything or cut unnecessary scenes out.
Finally, we have Albus Dumbledore (Jude Law), who was saved for last mostly because I forgot he was even in this movie in the first place.
I mean, he’s technically there and Law plays the character fine, but he’s really not given anything to do and just comes off as fan-service.
Worse yet is the fact that they totally gloss-over the homosexuality aspect that they had promised us, hardly even mentioning the fact that Dumbledore and GrumbledNuts had a relationship. Sorry, but you don’t get brownie points for having a gay character if you’re too afraid to actually mention the fact that he’s gay within the film.
Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald is a major step-down from a franchise that was struggling to keep afloat to begin with. All hope is not yet lost for these Fantastic Beasts movies — I think a new director and screenwriter would go a long way — but it seems pretty hard to believe that we’re still getting three more of these things.
Watch the trailer for Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald and then let us know, in the comments below, what you thought of the film!
'Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald' - Not so fantastic after all [REVIEW]4