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MOVIE REVIEW: Less Than Fantastic

A weak installment in the Fantastic Beasts franchise

Coming from a huge Harry Potter fan, I wasn’t looking forward to this revival of the Harry Potter universe. I said my goodbyes senior year of high school when “Deathly Hallows Part 2” came out.

Now there’s a new story to come out in theaters that not many fans asked for. “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” was a fun revisit to the universe that showed more characters and creatures that the books only brushed on.

However, four movies seems an exhausting excuse to delve into a period of the wizarding world that is important but not as pertinent as other stories that haven’t been well explored (still waiting on a story about the Marauders). “Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald” dips into an important part of wizarding history, but doesn’t have the focus to make it interesting.

Returning to Newt Scamander and his magical creatures, he is banned from international travel due to the events in the previous film where he was blamed for nearly destroying 1920s New York. Scamander is beckoned to Paris where he believes Tina Goldstein (future wife) is working to find a long lost descendant of a pure-blood family. Grindelwald, the original Voldemort, is also seeking this descendant to use them on his team to conquer the world.

There are too many plot lines to keep track of and it would be more confusing for those who haven’t watched the previous Fantastic Beasts film. There’s a conflict of Newt Scamander and his love for Tina Goldstein, then there is an added love triangle with Leta Lestrange. There’s a whole story about Credence Barebone, who may or may not be an important descendant and capable of killing Albus Dumbledore. There are a lot of old politics at the Ministry of Magic in multiple countries.

Then there’s Grindelwald himself. Johnny Depp’s inconsistent accent was the least of the problems. His Grindelwald wasn’t as scathingly evil as Ralph Fiennes’ Voldemort was. Grindelwald was trying to be a more relatable evil, notably when he says that he does not hate the non-magical people. This sounds similar when Donald Trump’s campaigns had him say that he believes that some Mexican people are presumably good people after calling them rapists. Relatable, but doesn’t strike fear.

Jude Law’s casting as young Albus Dumbledore was a good fit. Not the best, as I was hoping for Domhnall Gleeson but Law had the softness and mischievous nature Dumbledore has.

The new creatures the film introduced were fascinating, particularly the Chinese Zouwu was adorable and want to see more of than nifflers.

Otherwise, the film was too long to fit in so much information that wasn’t set up before like in books or maybe on Pottermore. If this was meant to be a five-part series, then it should set up it’s time better and made more accessible for new fans to join the wizarding fandom and not alienate them.

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