Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald - 2 Stars
Poorly written, atrociously constructed - yet it still has the charm of a Harry Potter film.
The second instalment of the "Fantastic Beasts" series set in J.K. Rowling's Wizarding World featuring the adventures of magi-zoologist Newt Scamander.
There were always going to be problems turning a 60 page joke “text book” (from the Harry Potter universe) into a series of 5 movies, yet the first one was oddly charming and well written. This one has a quarter of the charm, some good performances and great visuals, but it lacks any plot or character development. The film, written by JK Rowling has no focal point, instead it attempts to introduce/advance about 7 different story/character arcs - which it dramatically fails at. The fact that a character appears in this film despite, according to JK’s own writing isn’t actually born for another two decades demonstrates how little care has gone into making this. Beyond the under thought out writing the obvious gay erasure is dangerous queer-baiting and the producers need to think carefully about how they continue to pursue any mention of the Dumbledore/Grindelwald relationship. These “allusions” to a relationship are poor representation and it doesn’t take more than a quick google search to see how harmful poor LGBTQ+ representation can be.
The performances are good, Jude Law is an excellent Dumbledore - however he only has 10 minutes of actual screen time. Eddie Redmayne’s Newt Scamander hasn’t really evolved since the last film and isn’t given enough to do in this one, despite supposedly being the lead. Zoë Kravitz gives an excellent performance as the criminally underwritten Leta Lestrange and Ezra Miller is once again captivating as Credence. Johnny Depp as Grindelwald is not only a problematic casting choice, but a bad one. His dialogue is slurred consistently and he appears more as a caricature of a villain rather than actually being one.
Visually the film has some excellent moments and the score, as always with films in the Wizarding World is beautiful. Director David Yates has done his best with the poor story, but I sincerely hope any future instalment is considerably better written.
Overall it’ll do well at the box office because it’s Harry Potter, but I wouldn’t recommend it.
Review by Benjamin Maio Mackay
Screening courtesy of Palace Nova Cinemas