Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindlewald Review

Let’s talk about Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindlewald.

People really turned against the Fantastic Beasts franchise, a spin-off from the Harry Potter series. The movie got good reviews upon release, did well at the box office and the general public seemed to like it as well. I can say I enjoyed the movie for the most part, believing that it was a good romp at times dragged down by the need to have an evil wizard storyline again. But during the time between the release of the original and the release of its sequel, people started to hate the franchise. Seemingly down to the continued casting of Johnny Depp as it’s main villain, this movie has been mocked and derided before it even showed a frame. But should it be mocked and derided?

Yes it should. Look, I know I usually take my time to get to my conclusion but I’ve spent an hour trying to sum up the plot of the movie and have fallen flat on my face. The issue is the complete lack of a plot rather than an abundance. Newt Scamander is back on a vague quest given to him by Young Dumbledore to take down Grindlewald, but Newt realises there needs to be sequels so takes age to decide whether he’s doing it and then goes and looks for Tina, his friend from the first film who has developed a romantic attraction to, in Paris rather than do anything that might stop Grindlewald. Also Credence, the guy who turns into an evil magic cloud from the first, is somehow alive and looking for his family.

Everything feels like filler. The movie is running in place because there’s got to be sequels and it never feels like anything is getting done. For a big money blockbuster, it does appear that there’s a lot of talking about bad things that might happen in the future if they don’t do certain things which will also have to wait for another movie. The characters might as well be saying ‘Buy a ticket to the sequel, that’s when we’re going to do some cool stuff and save the world!’. It does make you feel a bit ripped off because you’re spending your time watching a movie which is just building for something else which you are going to also have to pay money to see.

All the good things from the original are gone. The best parts in the first film were what were promised, when Newt and friends were running around old-timey New York chasing a variety of different monsters. This was the romp part, the creatures were original and fun to watch and the way the characters responded to them. While there are creatures here still, they are in the background and it’s obvious no one on the writing team cares even more. Even the obvious merch potential of the Niffler is not enough to save him from being featured for five minutes top. The setting of Paris is utter crap because for the most part, it’s in the dark and unlike the first they don’t take advantage of the time period for fun jokes and situations. It’s like the people behind the movie saw the bits that everyone liked and decided that it distracted from their epic tale of Grindlewald so they took it what.

What’s left is the worst elements of the Harry Potter franchise. I like Harry Potter, it’s still very overrated because people seem to think it’s the greatest thing of all time which it definitely isn’t, but I really didn’t enjoy how dark and miserable it got at times. It’s those bits which have aged quite poorly because they were definitely of the time yet that’s the stuff that has been transferred over. Just darkness, people predicting the end of the world and nothing really to enjoy for the viewer. The big issue being the usual one for prequels though, we know that everything turns out fine because we know the wizarding world that Harry Potter enters into decades down the line.

But at the very least, Grindlewald is interesting? Well yes, he is. They have marked him out as being different from Voldemort as someone who commands followers through charm and charisma more than just pure evil. But for a movie titled the Crimes of Grindlewald, he sure doesn’t commit many crimes. Or show up that much. All he does is escape from jail in the opening scene then do a rally at the end which sets up the future films where presumably he’ll be around a bit more. Maybe they cut some stuff because of the controversy around Johnny Depp but it continues to make this film completely pointless.

Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindlewald is a dark piece of nothing which completely misunderstands what was good about the first film. People liked the first film because it was fun and different from the Harry Potter films that came before. But for some reason, the people behind it stripped it of all of that but kept the dark evil wizard stuff that bored people because they have seen that before. What is left is a dark mush of a movie that can’t even be bothered to make you care about what you are watching now because they are too busy building for the sequel. This is a bigger dump than the invisible shits the wizards at Hogwarts took before plumbing was invented.

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A Guy Who Talks About Movies

Former Head of Movies for Screen Critics. Film Reviews now hosted on Medium.