This weekend marks the release of the second film in the Fantastic Beasts franchise and here is a brain dump of what I thought. Before I dive in, let me start by reiterating that my bias is extremely strong when it comes to the Wizarding World. I grew up on it and I am just happy we keep getting stories from the world. Okay, let’s go.
For the casual viewer or Harry Potter fan, you might be turned off by critic reviews you’re seeing online. They’re not very favorable. And I am aware and willing to admit that the overall story and plot for the film isn’t very strong but by no means is the movie, as one critic said, “the first flat-out terrible product of the Harry Potter expanded universe”. Sorry sir, but have you read Harry Potter and the Cursed Child?
Visually the movie is beautiful. Did you love being introduced to new magical creatures we got in the first installment? We have even more for you. What about Jacob being a curious, funny sidekick to Newt? We have that too. But where Crimes of Grindelwald suffers is trying to figure out how to move the plot of the entire franchise forward in a way that makes this single installment feel like a complete story. At times the plot and sub plots seem clunky and the amount of characters seems crowded and unnecessary. Some things felt like they were thrown in just for fan service – familiar names like LeStrange, McLaggen, and McGonagall make an appearance. And the “twist” at the end felt a little predictable and lazy. I want to focus more on this interesting and complex plot of Grindelwald wanting to “cleanse” the wizarding world of anyone who is not pure blood and feeding on the wants and fears of wizards on his rise to power (kind of hits too close to home doesn’t it?).
Long story short – Crimes of Grindelwald suffers from not having source material to lean on. It feels like it’s still trying to figure out its story and how to get to the known conclusion in the best way. But it’s more stories from the wizarding world so who should really complain?