MOVIE THEATER REVIEW: “Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald” stars Eddie Redmayne (The Theory of Everything, The Danish Girl), Dan Fogler (Balls of Fury, Fanboys), Katherine Waterston (Alien: Covenant, Inherent Vice), Alison Sudol (Between Us, Other People’s Children), Ezra Miller (The Perks of Being a Wallflower, We Need to Talk About Kevin), Johnny Depp (Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales, Black Mass), Jude Law (Black Sea, Rise of the Guardians), Callum Turner (War & Peace [TV mini-series], Green Room), Zoë Kravitz (Mad Max: Fury Road, X-Men: First Class), Cornell John (Captain America: Civil War, The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian), and Claudia Kim (Avengers: Age of Ultron, The Dark Tower). It is directed by David Yates (The Legend of Tarzan, The Girl in the Café [TV movie]) and written by J.K. Rowling (Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them). Newt Scamander (Redmayne) and his friends are back in this second installment of the “Fantastic Beasts” franchise, following their pursuit of a runaway Grindelwald (Depp) who plans on ruling both the wizarding and muggle world by slowly amassing an army of wizard followers.
Where’s my review for the first film? You got me, man. I actually saw “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” for the first time a few weeks ago and never got around to writing an analysis. To make things short, the feature was alright. Good cinematography, acting, and surprisingly funny. The only downside was the story didn’t hold as meat as a “Harry Potter” film would. Everything felt airy and light, without much of a focus on any particular thing. All in all, it was an entertaining feature regardless. Now we approach “Crimes of Grindelwald” and things get tricky. Clearly, Warner Brothers wanted to bank off a new series of “Harry Potter.” Why make only one prequel flick when you can have several? And with that in mind, we come down to one of the biggest downsides of a film franchise: everything must connect from one movie to the next, as well as the big picture. I can’t tell you how much this flick felt like a setup for the next movies to come. Pretty much every decision made was used to give us a glimpse into what might happen in the next installment (or the final one). Now I get it, you can’t have a franchise feature and not hint at future stuff; it’s impossible. But to make that your crutch and centerpiece is an entirely different issue. There’s a whole lot jam-packed into “Crimes of Grindelwald.” Several characters take up the screen, some old and some new. All fight for the spotlight without one really taking center stage. Obviously, Newt, Dumbledore (Law), and Grindelwald (Depp) get more time than most, but not as much as you’d think. Because of all the jumping around, the story felt as if it was maintaining the franchise arc, not really settling for an individual film conflict, but rather setting up the whole franchise’s conflict in general. Grindelwald wants to build an army and control both the wizarding and muggle world, and everyone and their mother wants to stop him (who is on the good side, that is). Everything in-between is simply talks of Grindelwald or a few relationship advancements. Newt loves Tina (Waterston), Jacob (Fogle) loves Queenie (Sudol), Credence (Miller)…well, Creedence is trying to find love. These relationships are slowly developed, but not enough to where I care. When they cut to these building moments, I’m more so thinking “alright, let’s hurry this up” rather than “thank goodness, we’re developing our characters.” The fact of the matter is, there aren’t many figures in this ensemble I care for. Newt is an interesting fellow, but the man needs to be developed more; don’t go chucking all these new people at me if I haven’t gotten to really care for my main hero yet. Dumbledore was cool in this, but I couldn’t tell if that was based on my love for the “Harry Potter” flicks or that he actually had a good role in this movie. I think that’s what it boils down to in order to truly carve out your opinion for “Crimes of Grindelwald.” It’s certainly tailored for “Harry Potter” fans, as most of what is built around has something to do with the lore of the franchise. Admittedly, I was lost at certain parts, particularly the ones where they bring up names I don’t know of and family trees I am confused about, but I don’t hold the filmmakers to it. Rather, I hold them accountable for not focusing on making a good film, instead opting to make a grounded franchise. As a result, the final product of “Crimes of Grindelwald” feels messy, listless, and plain dull at times. I loved the cinematography though; it’s a gorgeous film with great settings, costuming, and visual effects. The acting is also solid and I will say there were entertaining moments. However, as a whole, “Crimes of Grindelwald” falls flat. It’s a shame, because I wanted to like it a lot, but in order for me to do so, I’d have to put on my rose-colored “Harry Potter” glasses and tell myself it is of quality. If you are a “Harry Potter” fan, you may enjoy this to some degree, though I implore you wait until it comes out for rent before you decide to watch it. FINAL SCORE: 60%= Burnt Popcorn
Here is the trailer: