In this latest installment of the Fantastic Beasts series of the Wizarding World franchise, the film follows Newt Scamander as he tries to locate the Obscurial Credence Barebone with the help of Albus Dumbledore. In the meantime, the titular Grindelwald has escaped custody and is now setting out to find support for his plans of world domination. The main question for this review is how does this movie stand up to its predecessor?
My main problem with this movie is with its writing. Just like the various miniseries adaptations of Stephen King, Rowling has proved that she is a better novelist than a screenwriter. I’m aware that J.K. Rowling has a lot of ideas for the Fantastic Beasts series (there are supposed to be five movies in the entire series), I felt that she had added too many conflicting ideas into this movie.
For example, there are too many plots and characters within the movie. Aside from the main conflict, there is a plot that revolves around Credence and Nagini (played by Ezra Miller and Claudia Kim respectively) and a subplot involving Jacob and Queenie (i.e., Newt’s American friends from the first Fantastic Beasts movie) amongst others. Newt Scamander, who is supposed to be the focus of the series, is pushed into the background as a result of these subplots. To add insult to injury, most of the plots are hard to follow and go nowhere. As a result of these plots, Crimes of Grindelwald is a very unfocused movie.
In addition to that, most of the movie’s dialogue was mainly exposition. I’m not even exaggerating; a significant chunk of the movie is dedicated to characters giving out info dumps. I hope that J.K. Rowling hires actual screenwriters for future installments of the Fantastic Beasts franchise.
Now for the controversial part: the twist. I’m not going to spoil this movie, but I felt that it was too forced (not to mention that it adds another plot hole to the movie’s ever-growing pile of plot holes).
However, there were some good things about this movie. For example, Johnny Depp as the titular character was easily the best part about Crimes of Grindelwald. Ever since the release of the first Pirates of the Caribbean movie back in 2003, Depp has been playing the same character since then. In this movie, however, Depp plays a very charismatic antagonist. I felt that he was one of the few characters in the Fantastic Beasts series of the Wizarding World franchise to get any character development. I liked Jude Law’s performance of a much younger Dumbledore despite his character being shoehorned into the movie. He manages to capture the charm of the older version that we see in the Harry Potter movies. The supporting cast of the movie is also worth mentioning, especially Newt, Jacob, and Queenie (played by Eddie Redmayne, Dan Fogler, and Alison Sudol respectively). I enjoyed them whenever they appear onscreen.
The sad part about this movie (and the franchise in general) is that it has the potential to be great. The best part about the first movie is its worldbuilding. However, there are too many cooks in the kitchen for this movie to work. The movie should stand on its own merits rather than setting up for future Fantastic Beasts movies. J.K. Rowling is too way in over her head in handling the screenplay of the movie. I hate to say it, but she is slowly turning into George Lucas.