I don’t blame J.K. Rowling for milking the wildly successful Harry Potter franchise. The results so far, however – well for the Fantastic Beasts anyway – are hit-and-miss.
Fantastic Beasts: Crimes of Grindelwald is a visual feast. Potterheads who want to explore unseen parts of the Wizarding World are in for a treat. Warner Bros. spent 200 million (excluding marketing costs) on this movie and you can see it in every frame.
The worldbuilding is infused with character, texture, and age thanks to detailed visuals and production design. The plot – half an action adventure, and half a detective movie – takes you around America, England, and France. It’s book-ended by immersive action sequences with seamless computer-generated effects.
That’s pretty much it. Crimes of Grindelwald suffers from a grave case of sequelitis.
The movie is easy to follow based on its summary – the younger sexy Dumbledore sends stuttering otherwise precious cinnamon roll Newt to find cheekbones to die for Credence before ugly ass Depp Grindelwald gets his hands on him.
When the movie attempts to tell its story, however, it’s confusing to know what the hell this is all about – manipulation, a love triangle of sorts, thorny family issues, and a cop-out gaymance.
The movie is more concerned with assembling and placing expository pieces in place for future sequels. So it piles on new characters, new locations, and new themes but develops none of them. Worse, the original characters are changed so that the movie can have a reason for them to exist in this sequel.
Crimes of Grindelwald is made tolerable by the performances of overqualified actors. Depp does what he does, but he’s clearly not the actor for this role.
The scenery-chewing seductive supervillain character that Colin Farrell gifted to this franchise is gone, replaced by a caricature villain. The movie is interested in how people’s response to his ideology – both in allegiance or opposition – create similarly violent results but left unexplored and underutilized.
The result is a travelogue peppered with superficial franchise details. There’s no sense of mystery, magic, or discovery, even when panoramic shots of places and ministries fill your screen. Crimes of Grindelwald just want to tell you that this is only the second installment to a five-part franchise.
Fantastic Beasts: Crimes of Grindelwald
Fantastic Beasts: Crimes of Grindelwald is a visually impressive action-adventure bogged down by a muddled story, narrative inconsistency, and a sorely miscast villain.