When you love a universe, a franchise so much, at what point does your critiquing brain switch off and lets your fan heart take over.
Surprisingly, Johnny Depp was not the biggest problem in the movie.
Fantastic Beasts: Crimes of Grindlewald is the latest installment of JK Rowling’s Wizarding World. I would say Warner Brothers but she does not seem to be willing to let go of this universe either. It was released worldwide (more or less) on 16 November 2018. It stars Eddie Redmayne, Jude Law, Johnny Depp, Zoey Kravitz, Callum Turner and Claudia Kim. Reprising their roles from the last movie, we also have Catherine Waterson, Alison Sudol , Ezra Miller and the lovable Dan Fogler. The movie follows Grindlewald after he was arrested in the last movie and the beginning of his crusade of uniting wizards, notably pure bloods , in his quest for world domination by controlling muggles.
Now while reviewing a movie, I try not to go into spoilers. But assuming you have read other reviews up until this point or even seen the movie, you know its not good. Ever since the reviews started rolling in, people have been critical of the movie. It is indeed plot heavy and a little too much for the casual fan. But this is not a negative review. I actually quite enjoyed the film. I just had a really good time at the cinema.
When it comes to watching a movie, especially one in a large franchise as this, there are three types of viewers. Those who get into every nook and cranny of the plot and align the timeline with past events to guess what happens next, the casual fan who just wants to watch a movie with a lot of magic and do not care much for the details, and lastly, those who simply enjoy the movie as is, plot inconsistencies and all. I often find myself in the first category, but its impossible for me to be not biased towards the Wizarding world. So, I quite liked the movie, despite the audience reaction.
The effects of this movie are gorgeous. Right from the first action set piece in the beginning, movie does a good job of drawing viewers in, unlike the earlier harry potter movies where things took a while to begin. They also make a good point of including different magical creatures throughout, not forgetting that the movie is after all, called fantastic beasts. Although, how much like in the last movie, the focus was an obscurus, an unlikely fantastic beast, in this movie the focus is on Grindlewald.
However, the movie cannot seem to make up its mind about who the main character is. It jumps around a lot and changes theme and mood throughout the movie constantly. The first hour of the movie is extremely slow and inconsistent. None of the significant plot lines are properly setup. The plots that are setup are done haphazardly. With none of them paying off according to the time we spent with them. None of the new characters are given due time to establish themselves beyond exposition. The latter half of the movie , however, is brilliant. It cranks up the action to the maximum and its just one thing after the other. The story also picks up in pace and we finally get to move in one direction. The setup for that could have been achieved in half an hour and this movie could have been shorter and it would have made no difference plot wise. It did feel like the movie had not gone through any script revision by a different pair of eyes. The camera work was really jarring for half the movie, especially the face close ups. Its not like there is a lot of acting going on that you need the face to take up the whole screen. But the action was actually shot decently. Granted most, if not all, of it was special effects.
All in all, it was a fun movie. I do not want to get into the plot too much, cause I am afraid I might give away things. But it was a fun watch. The actors all did a phenomenal job. Johnny Depp, the performance most people expected to get screwed up , was quite apt. He did no funky accents or weird antics. If anything, I think Depp did a fine job of representing a suave Gindlewald. Voldemort was a barbaric villain. He killed people left and right but also had an air of crudeness about him. Grindlewald, on the other hand, is the more modern villain. He is known to be skilled with speech to the point where they cut off his tongue in the beginning. I wish they would have shown him manipulating people more. Voldemort got people to follow him through fear, Grindlewald claims to have the same aim as other wizards and witches and then manipulate them into doing his bidding.
Zoey Kravitz was great as Leta Lestrange. I think she did a fine job portraying a young witch, haunted by her past. The tension between Newt and Leta was also fantastic, as already alluded to in the last movie. Thesus was great too. Although he was not given enough screen time to explore his romance with Leta or the tension between him and Newt. He reminded me a lot of Percy, just another worker for the Ministry. I really wish the focus was his relationship with Newt and not Newt and Leta. Which in a way would work for the movie. I think the movie should have been about Newt’s relationships with the different people in the movie, and then compare is nonchalant behaviour with how much he cares for his beasts in contrast.
The previous cast play pretty much the same roles as last time. Queenie more so than some. Dan Fogler is a delight to watch yet again. Unfortunately, in the slew of confusing plot and unnecessary side quests, neither get much screentime or attention story wise.
Jude Law. The performance everyone was looking forward to. However, I did not expect this, and I am not sure how many other fans did, Dumbledore is not that young here. He is not much different than the older Dumbledore in the Harry Potter series. I thought we would get to see the young, brash, impulsive Dumbledore. I feel putting him in here at this point achieves nothing besides saying you need him for the final battle in 1945. But Jude Law did a fantastic job of playing the same mysterious but also manipulating professor.
The score was pretty good. The scene with Hogwarts got several cheers in my hall. Lots of chuckles at the small jokes and unanimous surprise at the twists throughout the movie. People around me seemed to have a decent time.
Overall, I think the movie was ok. It was not as good as the best Harry Potter movies and certainly weaker than previous Fantastic Beasts. But I think the second half did a decent job in raising the stakes for future installments.
What did you guys think about the movie? Were you also severely disappointed? Do you think they should stick to 5 movie schedule or bring it down to 3 if it means doing away with the plot heavy stuff?
Please let me know in the comments below. Constructive criticism is always welcome.
Till next time.