Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald (2018)
A while after the first film Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (2016), the evil and powerful dark wizard Gellert Grindelwald (Johnny Depp) escapes from prison once again and begins his plan to gather pure-blood wizards and witches to follow him and rule the world. His main target is once again to lure Credence Barebone (Ezra Miller), who somehow survived and is now in control of his Obscurus power. Albus Dumbledore (Jude Law) secretly assigns his former student Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne) to stop Grindelwald. Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald is the second instalment in the Harry Potter prequel spinoff film series and is the 10th instalment in the Wizarding World film franchise.
David Yates (Harry Potter 5 – 8, The Legend of Tarzan) and J.K. Rowling reprise their roles as director and screenwriter respectively with the main cast all returning as well. Although I was never a huge fan of the franchise, I don’t recall a Harry Potter film being as boring and confusing as this one. When the film opens with a predictable escape of the previous film’s antagonist, Yates clearly struggled to make Rowling’s original script interesting or even entertaining enough like the last film.
When the film opens with a predictable escape by the same antagonist, I thought, okay, bad start but maybe it gets better when the protagonist and his cute Pokemons appears. But it doesn’t. The narratives just keeps rushing out plots after plots, subplots after subplots, and none are well developed, well explained or even complete. And to remember all the names, history, lore, magic spells and whatnot, you have to be a fan to know or recall who or what the heck happens ’cause the film somehow only bother reminding or explaining things that I still remember from past instalments. It’s like a disjointed YouTube video compilation of plot scenes from a video game or series of its own.
The compelling performance by Eddie Redmayne (The Danish Girl, The Theory of Everything) as Newt once again manages to engage me to try keep up but the other characters just keep turning up and adds more subplots that I don’t even feel like caring about. Jude Law (King Arthur: Legend of the Sword, Cold Mountain) is charming as the younger Dumbledore but he only appears a few scenes, including one in the Hogwarts school, which might offer the nostalgic effect to the old fans. Apart from that, he does nothing much apart from leaving a few more unanswered questions.
Then there are the “new” major characters like Newt’s school crush — Leta Lestrange (Zoë Kravitz), Newt’s brother — Theseus Scamander (Callum Turner), and future snake companion of Voldemort’s — Nagini (Claudia Kim), added to the mix but have little or uninteresting backstories. All Nagini seem to do here is just frown or look troubled all the time and deliver a few short dialogues. Her backstory? She carries a cursed blood that allows her to transform into a snake and she’s a very supportive friend of Credence’s. But why? It’s not explained. We don’t really get to know her from this film.
Ironically, we don’t even get to see enough of the fantastic beasts in action this time. There’s not a lot of magical fun either. Instead, the film gives us stupid, half-assed romance subplot between Newt, Leta, Theseus and Tina Goldstein (Katherine Waterston) that doesn’t work, and another additional lame romance subplot between absolute minor and unnecessary characters from the first film, Jacob (Dan Fogler) and Queenie (Alison Sudol). It doesn’t even make sense for Newt to involve Jacob. a No-Maj, in yet another dangerous adventure.
Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald is an utterly boring and a total let down after the previous instalment which showed that it had potential to be one of the best spinoff film series ever. Well, not anymore. If you’re okay with drowning in 2 hours plus of dull, cliched plots and twists, and if you’re a hardcore fan of the franchise, then maybe — just maybe — you’d be okay with it.
What I would’ve named the film: “Fantastic Shits: The Crimes of Spinoffs”
Malaysian censorship: I’d be surprised if anything was cut.
Verdict: Undoubted the worst instalment in the Wizarding World franchise.
Rating: 2 / 5
Genre: Fantasy, adventure
Running Time: 133 minutes
Director: David Yates
Screenwriters: J. K. Rowling
Cast: Eddie Redmayne, Katherine Waterston, Dan Fogler, Alison Sudol, Ezra Miller, Zoë Kravitz, Callum Turner, Claudia Kim, William Nadylam, Kevin Guthrie, Carmen Ejogo, with Jude Law and Johnny Depp
Malaysia Release Date: 15 November 2018
Local Distributor: Warner Bros. Pictures Malaysia
Production: Warner Bros. Pictures, Heyday Films