Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald Review: J.K. Rowling’s magical juggle falls completely on it’s face
While the original Fantastic Beasts was smart, simple, and a solid separate outing in the J.K. Rowling Harry Potter universe, the series’ second outing, The Crimes of Grindelwald, is just plain confusing and has exposition that’s hard to follow.
It’s honestly hard to even tell you what the main plot is as there is just some many story threads that never feel fully developed. For the most part, audiences are following Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne) as he travels to Paris in search of Tina Goldstein (Katherine Waterson) with his non-magic friend Jacob (Dan Fogler). However, the whole crew gets sucked into an ever-growing plot of both Credence (Ezra Miller) trying to understand who he is and Grindelwald (Johnny Depp) basically trying to take over the world. Also, a young Dumbledore (Jude Law) is there too.
Now, if this kind of plot sound like it has a lot going on and is frankly kind of unimportant, that’s because it is. There are so many discussions between characters that feel important to what is happening, yet it forgets who its audience is. While it’s refreshing to J.K. Rowling come back and write the film adaptation, it feels like she mostly wrote the screenplay in a way that benefits those who have read the books and put a distinct disadvantage on those who just want to watch the movies.
Why is it so important that we find out Credence’s name? Why does Newt always have to get in the middle of things like this? Why is Grindelwald so evil? So many questions that have answers wrapped up in way too much exposition.
This movie can honestly be a headache at times because, especially as a fan, you want to feel engaged and care about characters that came back from the original. It’s just so hard to as the film attempts the crazy juggling act of trying to introduce new characters, set up further plot points, bring fan-favorite characters, have great scenes of magic, have references to the Harry Potter series, make Grindlewald feel as evil as Voldemort, introduce more magical animals, and mostly trying to give Newt a girlfriend. Even all of that feels like a mouthful to say and doesn’t even cover the full scope of what this film tries to do.
The worst part of this has to be the constant love story that no one will care about that film thinks is important. After seeing Crimes of Grindelwald, I literally don’t care if Newt ends up with Tina, Leta, or the forgettable maid he has in his briefcase. It could be completely thrown away and it would probably make the film better.
Now, even with all of this negativity, there’s still some solid things that Crimes of Grindelwald brings to the big screen. The dialogue is pretty solid and will easily rile some laughter amongst any audience member. Dan Fogler is still great as Jacob Kowalski and Jude Law is extremely likable as a young Albus Dumbledore. The effects are also pretty cool and these films continue to take different looks at each part of this universe that actually make it more interesting.
As a whole, The Crimes of Grindelwald is truly a mess and a juggling act that fumbles each new piece that gets thrown into the mix. It’s not unwatchable or anything like that, but it’s such a headache that it’s far from being a movie to watch for just entertainment value. For fans of the book, it’ll surely be a fun watch, but if you’re not well-versed in the books, you might as well stay home.