Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald


Rating: 2 out of 5.

It’s easy to dismiss the Fantastic Beasts franchise as a desperate attempt to extend the Harry Potter universe.  I mean there’s a precedent.   Warner Brothers had the chutzpah to take the original 7 books and expand them into 8 movies.  There are a lot of fans out there that live for this sort of thing.  Confession time: I am not one of them.  Don’t get me wrong. I think the Harry Potter films creatively built a rich fantasy world.  If you fall within a certain age, this was your childhood and I respect that.  It’s just that the adventure was so episodic.  A loosely connected series of events that unfolded cinematically like: “So this happened, and then this happened, and then this happens…”  Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them was even more meandering but at least it had some nice CGI effects and a couple of star-crossed lovers in the form of Jacob Kowalski (Dan Fogler) and Queenie Goldstein (Alison Sudol).  Unfortunately, we’ve reached a low point with The Crimes of Grindelwald.

What is this chronicle even about?  I don’t know where to begin because I couldn’t figure it out.  Somewhere in this mishmosh of stuff, Albus Dumbledore (Jude Law) contacts Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne) for help.  The dark wizard Gellert Grindelwald (Johnny Depp) has escaped and he intends on amassing an army of wizards to follow him.  I assume this is all laying the groundwork for a Dumbledore vs. Grindelwald showdown during some unspecified sequel in the future, but not here friends.  This is a movie about expository details.  There are a lot of characters.  My favorites Jacob and Queenie are back, but they have less room to be enchanting here.  They’re crowded out by a distended cast that highlights the troubled you-thought-he-was dead-but-he’s-really-not Credence (Ezra Miller).  In smaller, less important roles there’s also half-blood witch Tina (Katherine Waterston), an Auror, along with pure-blood witch Leta Lestrange (Zoë Kravitz) who is engaged to Newt Scamander’s brother Theseus Scamander (Callum Turner), MACUSA employee, Abernathy (Kevin Guthrie ), French-Senegalese wizard Yusuf Kama (William Nadylam) and a freak show attraction named Nagini (Claudia Kim).

It’s called The Crimes of Grindelwald but the only crime I could see was the utter debasement of a sensible plot.  It’s incoherently edited.  The drama has no structure.  The saga is overcrowded with people.  Their introduction to this story isn’t organic. Each individual forcibly inserted into the narrative.  One appears after another as a clumsy means to explain various alliances that only the most minutia-obsessive fan would even care about.  I’m sure some of this confusing exposition relates back to the original Harry Potter world but this casual observer couldn’t make the associations required to enjoy this mess.  Mind you, I’ve seen every single installment in this blessed oeuvre.  People pop up, get a complicated character explanation and then *poof* it’s on to the next identity.  There are simply far too many personalities.  Few get a chance to make an impression, so we have no reason to be invested in their assorted plights.

I couldn’t divine any focus to this tale.  I gather it’s about Grindelwald because he is namechecked in the title, but your guess is as good as mine.  Johnny Depp has an opportunity to stand out.  He doesn’t enliven the narrative, but he doesn’t ruin it either. It’s the screenplay that sinks this production.  We have J. K. Rowling herself to thank for that.  Her gift for writing novels does not translate to screenwriting.  These are clearly two very different talents.  Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them suffered from a poor script as well.  As bad as this entry is, there are some high points.  The costumes, production design, makeup, and hairstyling are all beyond compare.  Seriously, I noticed how perfectly coiffed everyone was.  My mind had time to wander on several occasions. Unfortunately, those attributes are not the foundation for a meaningful film.  Sense and reason are, but alas, they have no power in this wizarding world.


12 Responses to “Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald”

  1. I recently watched the first one and it was quite fun but nothing really special. I doubt I will get to this one before it ends up on Now TV.


  2. Agreed, and you even left off some characters, Lol! I think you were too kind about Johnny Depp – I still think he was playing Jack Sparrow after going through AA.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hey! Thanks for commenting on here.
      I thought there were larger problems than Johnny Depp’s performance. I couldn’t even follow the story. Agreed, Depp is not great but the convoluted plot with a nonsensical story was so much worse.
      P.S. What characters did I leave out?


      • Yep, the story was, as you remarked, “incoherent”. And crazed fan that I am of Harry Potter, as much as I wanted to like it, I just didn’t get it.
        P.S. Nicholas Flamel


      • Nicolas Flamel? I had no idea who that was. So I looked at the cast list for this film. He’s the 42nd actor (Brontis Jodorowsky) listed. For a second I thought I forgot someone important. 😂😂😂


  3. I was seven when the Sorcerer’s Stone released; my class started reading in 1999. The book was never for me and I never got into the movies. Was definitely in the minority feeling like that as the movies got bigger.

    I like to try to see everything in my power, but, this was a hard pass for me from day 1. Appears a sound decision was made.


  4. smilingldsgirl Says:

    It was an exhausting experience and the more I think about it the more it completely unravels

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I feel the exact same way, I did my own review where I dived in the bad of the film, It’d be awesome if you’d check it out


  6. Very confusing. I just didn’t get it. A snooze. 2 1/2 stars


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