If tearing down a bad blockbuster wasn’t so satisfying, that’s all I would say about this film.
Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald is hereby charged with lazy writing, betraying its fan base and wasting my time. It’s an empty experience almost entirely void of the humour and charm that made the first Beasts film bearable. Crimes places one question at its heart: Who is Credence Barebone? I have a better question: Who gives a damn?
The aims of Crimes are fundamentally flawed. Sure, incorporating details from the Harry Potter supports the idea that both stories exist in the same world. But there is reckless overkill and attention is unnecessarily drawn to each detail. It’s an embarrassment that the writers need a lesson in subtlety.
What’s worse is that all these throwbacks leave room for plot inconsistencies. Prequels and spinoffs often beg a central question: Who exactly is this film for? In the face of a negative critical reception, Warner Bros and JK Rowling could easily say this film is primarily for the diehard Potterheads. But not even Veritaserum could find truth in this because the film lacks continuity. The Potter fans that this film is apparently made for will be the first to notice the conspicuous issues. The Mirror of Erised can now show expositional flashbacks, and Professor McGonagall is fifty years older than she should be. Without spoiling the film, it is difficult to discuss the worst crimes against consistency. It’s not too much to ask for these films to align with what we already know.
This time the beasts prove narratively superfluous, serving the sole purpose of fulfilling the Fantastic Beasts title with which the franchise is needlessly burdened. The plot of Crimes is so thin that it could turn sideways and entirely disappear from sight. It has a hollow quality most often found in the first half of two-part finales (think Mockingjay Part One and Breaking Dawn Part One). As the second instalment in a five-film series, it forebodes disaster. Sides are taken in Crimes, with the most interesting aspect being the exploration of what it is to pick a side: a sexy, young Dumbledore (Jude Law) or the bleach blonde Grindelwald (Johnny Depp). Frustratingly, Grindelwald is a discount Voldemort, without any of the intimidation. Truly, Grindelwald is the villain this weak franchise deserves.
As an entirely incomplete story, Crimes can’t possibly stand up as an individual film. The conclusion was anticlimactic and vacuous. Even after conceding that Crimes is necessary to set up the battles ahead, it fails to raise the stakes for the characters involved. Good work by the ensemble cast and a decent score can only go so far in redeeming this disaster. In a $200 million film, smart aesthetics are the bare minimum. Even still, there’s nothing we haven’t seen more adeptly in the Potter series.
It’s no surprise that the gentleman two seats away began snoring halfway through. I envied him. He was getting some shuteye, while I was rolling my eyes. Perhaps the worst crime of the film is that it is boring. Even the scenes the creators hoped would arouse the most excitement were forced clunkily into place.
If wizards are truly among us, please obliviate this experience from my mind.