J. K. Rowling invites you back to her Wizarding World (TM) with The Crimes of Grindelwald.
I’ll be honest – despite rather enjoying Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find them, I’d nearly forgotten about the the new Harry Potter spinoff. The first film was fairly straightforward, so I figured I could go into this without a refresher. Well, that was either a bad judgment call or this movie is just entirely too confusing regardless.
The story starts out straightforward enough. The villain is up to no good, and the reluctant hero needs to save the day. OK. It quickly devolves into something dull and confusing though. Dozens of characters pop in and out like whackamole critters, and I wasn’t always sure if I was supposed to remember something important about them from the previous movie and/or books or not. The plot plods, with more politics and pondering than excitement. Half the time I was genuinely confused as to what exactly was going on as we jump from one scene to the next abruptly, delving into memories and flashbacks, into magical suitcases, and in and out of hidden magical realms of nondescript cities. I think they were New York, London, and Paris, but really they could have been anywhere if it wasn’t for the on-screen text announcing the location.
One-upping Star Wars with regards to the franchise soap opera syndrome, Fantastic Beasts decides to make everything and everyone related. Rowling has clearly spent too much time in her own head with millions of minute details about the world she created with Harry Potter and has used this movie as an excuse to spew whatever ideas and tidbits never got the chance to be seen or read prior. Filled with cameos and nods that serve no real purpose, this story itself serves no real purpose either. It has a beginning and end, but exists out of obligation. A boring and confusing bit of history that is told without any joy or creativity. Remember all the things you liked about Fantastic Beasts? Well this movie either forgets about them, or tries to ruin them in the name of drama. Well, other than the nifflers. I mean, you can’t really ruin a niffler, can you?
I’ll say it again – this movie is nearly devoid of joy. It’s lackluster at best, bad fan fiction at worst. And just plain confounding. It’s biggest problem is that it absolutely cannot stand on its own. If it didn’t have the benefit of being related to Harry Potter, it would be just this week’s young adult fantasy flick, probably poorly adapted from a half decent semi-popular book, but quickly forgotten about and relegated to the bargain bin at Target. Without the name dropping, this movie has nothing.
Somewhere in this movie, filled with good performances and high production values, is some great aspiration. But it is so bogged down by everything else, it amounts to nearly nothing. Instead of a fresh new story we’re left with something stale. It’s boring. How can a movie about magical beasts and quirky wizards going to war against an evil Nazi-esque sorcerer be boring? How?
My rating: Two out of five hats
Mrs. Hamster says:
“I am a HUGE Harry Potter fan. I think the problem with this movie (not to say it’s bad, but it’s not great) is that it tries too hard to fit in with the characters and storyline we know instead of just exploring the universe in which Harry lives.”
Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald conjures itself into 4,163 theaters, November 16