Saturday, 6 July 2019

MOVIES | Review: Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald

Title: Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald
Creators: David Yates (director), J.K. Rowling (screenwriter), Warner Brothers and Heyday Films (production companies)
Rating: 12A
Runtime: 134 minutes
Release date: 16th November 2018
Genre: Adventure, Family, Fantasy

This review contains spoilers!

In an effort to thwart Grindelwald's plans of raising pure-blood wizards to rule over all non-magical beings, Albus Dumbledore enlists his former student Newt Scamander, who agrees to help, though he's unaware of the dangers that lie ahead. Lines are drawn as love and loyalty are tested, even among the truest friends and family, in an increasingly divided wizarding world.
- From IMDb.

Fantastic Beasts: Crimes of Grindelwald was talked about a lot both prior to and during its release, and it created some quite strong opinions, so once I finally watched the film and read the script book, I thought the best way to work through my own thoughts and feelings on the movie would be in a review. I felt, and still do feel, quite conflicted about it, and while in general it was a slightly disappointing, I still rated the script book three out of five stars on Goodreads because it had strong potential, and I did feel emotionally connected to it, although that may have been in large part due to nostalgia.
In comparison to Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, the story of Crimes of Grindelwald did not feel as strong or tightly plotted. I think I would have enjoyed it more if the plot had been simplified down to some key points, perhaps without the flashbacks (despite how much I enjoyed seeing Hogwarts) and backstory, which seemed to bog the story down in unnecessary details rather than add anything to it. Leta Lestrange's story oddly made me feel less sympathy for her, and Credence's origins felt convoluted. On the subject of Credence's origins, I never felt like finding out who his parents were was something people were asking for, and it never seemed like it was something Credence was curious about in the first movie. This meant I could not understand why it was such a big question in the movie, and when the answer was revealed it did not seem to make sense to me, since we already had the Dumbledore family story revealed in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, and Credence does not actually seem to fit into it.
The film felt like it could really have benefited from a stronger central point, perhaps more of a focus on the fact that Credence was a surviving obscurial, rather than his mysterious family. I do not think I would have been disappointed if Credence's parents had simply been muggles who had died, explaining why he had been adopted by Mary Lou Barebone.
Additionally, there could have been more of a focus on the fantastic beasts too, since the creatures that were featured were intriguing and creatively designed, and I really liked Newt's house and where he kept the creatures he looked after.
The circus in Paris also felt like it could have had a larger part to play,  since a magical circus in such a beautiful city, that has not been explored much yet in any of the Harry Potter books or movies, is a setting with so much potential, and yet the circus barely had five minutes on screen, and it did not appear to be much of an exciting circus.
In terms of characters, I think Dumbledore was played well by Jude Law, but Johnny Depp was still a bad choice for the role of Grindelwald, and I think a different actor (with different makeup too) could have made me more immersed in the movie. The relationship between Newt and Tina could have been improved, because unfortunately, although there were some sweet moments between the two, I did not feel very much chemistry between them. As well as that, the route that was taken with Queenie did not seem believable. While the scene where she gets lost and upset in Paris was quite emotional and I think that part was done well, I did not believe that she would have enchanted Jacob, or that she would side with Grindelwald, so I think different decisions could have been made with her character to give her a more realistic story. The idea to make Nagini originally a cursed woman also felt odd, and I do not think they gave her a big enough part in the movie for her to make a big enough impact.
Overall, if the Fantastic Beasts series as whole is going to be a success, I think the next movies are going to need to be a big improvement on this one, and I think each movie should be able to work better as a stand alone story, like Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them did.

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