Well, I can’t say I’m surprised to why this is getting very mixed reviews.
Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes Of Grindelwald is the latest Wizarding World franchise, which is directed by David Yates. Harry Potter author J.K Rowling wrote the screenplay here and the film stars Eddie Redmayne, Katherine Waterston, Dan Fogler, Alison Sudol, Ezra Miller, Jude Law, Johnny Depp, Callum Turner, and Zoe Kravitz. In an effort to thwart Grindelwald’s plans of raising pure-blood wizards to rule over all non-magical beings, Albus Dumbledore enlists his former student Newt Scamander, who agrees to help, unaware of the dangers that lie ahead.
As someone who really loves the Harry Potter films and has also heavily enjoyed the original Fantastic Beasts film, I was really looking forward to Crimes of Grindelwald and seeing what new things they would do while expanding more on to the Harry Potter saga. Unfortunately, I walked out of this movie extremely underwhelmed.
There are definitely some good things about Crimes of Grindelwald. To give the film some credit, what they set up is very interesting regarding certain characters and how they interact. The characters, both new and old, are giving another strong backbone, making it a testament to the rich character role-models from the Harry Potter series. All of the character are great, with them being mostly likable and interesting with what little info you get about their backstory. Some of the fun from the first movie returns, which is always a good thing. You get some comic relief, which works and is surprisingly very effective in some scenes. The VFX all around was great. All of the magic, creatures and the world is beautifully realized in such a great and innovative way, making the universe never feel or look fake.
The performances here was also fantastic. Eddie Redmayne returns as Newt Scamander and he is just as likable as he was in the first film. Redmayne manages to bring so much to his role with his infectious charisma, and makes you root for Newt’s character throughout. Ezra Miller is also good, even if he doesn’t have a lot to do here. For new additions, we first have Jude Law as Dumbledore who does an excellent job bringing a younger version of the iconic character to life. He brings so much humbleness to his role which makes him such a likable character as his older counterpart. However, the best new performance here was Johnny Depp as Grindelwald who knocks it out of the park. He plays the menacing villain character so believably, and Depp makes it all work, even when the material he’s given is weak.
So why did I end up being so underwhelmed? It’s pretty much because this film is all set up and no payoff. There is so much set up by the end of this film, that there’s nothing resolved in a meaningful way, which makes the whole 2 hour and 13 minute run time feel extremely hollow. The best way I can describe this film, is that it’s basically a 2 hour extended first act. The Fantastic Beasts series was originally supposed to be a trilogy, but was extended to a 5 film saga, which hurts the film’s narrative in such a negative way. By the end, you don’t feel any closer to the characters or plot.
This goes into the character development, which was sub-par. You don’t really get much more character development from the returning cast and the newer introduced characters who don’t get enough screen time/development. Ezra Miller had one of the most interesting characters in the last film so I was excited to see how they developed his arc here. But, Ezra gets so little development to the point where you feel no real progression in his character. Jude Law’s Dumbledore, while awesome, doesn’t get enough screen time. The biggest offender to this set up problem is Grindelwald, who is originally meant to be this grand villain, but the audience doesn’t get enough time to feel his impact, which is disappointing considering how great Johnny Depp was at his role.
I blame all of this on the screenplay which J.K Rowling wrote. There is so much that could have be cut out to make this a better film. This film is a mess, based on how it handles its story lines. There are so many unnecessary plot lines happening at once, where the film doesn’t really have much of a focus at all.
Overall, Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald is a disappointing entry to the Wizarding World franchise. This movie sets out to do so much, yet doesn’t pay off in the slightest. There is a lot to like here and I’m still kinda looking forward to seeing what they will do next. It makes me question what was the point of this film. I love J.K Rowling, but maybe she should back off on writing the future entries for the sake of keeping the franchise alive.