Review – Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald (2018)

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Unsurprisingly, the success of theHarry Potter franchise continues the spinoff/prequel series, Fantastic Beasts. I have no issues with a cinematic universe that centers around this expansive magical land (Wizarding World), but it has to be done right. From one standpoint, the level of success Harry Potter found is impossible to match. From another standpoint, it doesn’t need to be matched, as long as they still do right by their stories. I have read all of the Harry Potter stories, but I never really had any interest in reading the Fantastic Beasts book. That being said, the first film wasn’t bad…it wasn’t great…but it wasn’t bad. Now, it’s time to discover where the sequel, The Crimes of Grindelwald stands.

There’s a lot to cover with this film, but one thing should be mentioned right away: this film has no shame or subtlety when it comes to showing off. The visual effects run rampant in this sequel, but it’s also a perfect example of when critics say visuals are too “flashy” in a film. I can sit here all day and explain how pretty the movie looks on a technical level, but these visuals actually take captivation away from the audience. Too much is going on all at once, and the story, as simple as it technically is, is honestly lost among the rubble of visuals and sub-stories. All-in-all, this causes the film to feel over-convoluted and longer than it really is, making the viewing of the film ultimately more negative than need-be.

In an effort to thwart Grindelwald’s plans of raising pure-blood wizards to rule over all non-magical beings, Albus Dumbledore enlists his former student Newt Scamander, who agrees to help, though he’s unaware of the dangers that lie ahead. Lines are drawn as love and loyalty are tested, even among the truest friends and family, in an increasingly divided wizarding world. 

IMDb

PEOPLE – 8/20 (40%)

Acting – 2/4 | Characters – 2/4 | Casting – 1/4 | Importance – 2/4 | Chemistry – 1/4

Similar to the Hobbit series, I’ve always slightly had an issue with this category with the Fantastic Beasts franchise. As far as I can tell, everything here is mediocre at best, forgettable in other areas, and just plain bad in a few spots, too. No, you can never live to the same level the Harry Potter series made it to, but it’s not that hard to still do something wonderful. I never once saw that much of an acting range, the characters never impress me, while there is importance…you don’t always notice, given how buried it is under the flashy production. Plus, I’ve never liked this cast. They don’t feel like they have the best chemistry, and honestly, they are just…forgettable in the long run.

WRITING – 2/10 (20%)

Dialogue – 1/2 | Balance – 0/2 | Story Depth – 0/2 | Originality – 0/2 | Interesting – 1/2

Oh boy. That’s a low score. I contribute the low score for writing to how convoluted the movie is. Interestingly enough, it’s a somewhat simple story, but like I said, it’s so buried underneath the flashy garbage and overly complex way of storytelling that it’s hard to juggle what’s even going on. That alone affects literally every subcategory in this section. It is imbalanced, you can’t really tell if there is anything meaningful or deep here, and it honestly doesn’t feel original. Heck, the relationship between Dumbledore and Grindelwald will remind you of Professor X and Magneto. How about its level of interesting? Yeah, I was interested enough to watch it, but that interest quickly dwindled down throughout time watching it.

BTS – 9/10 (90%)

Visuals – 2/2 | Cinematography – 2/2 | Editing – 2/2 | Advertising – 2/2 | Music/Sound – 1/2

Obviously, we know where their focus for this film was. Right from the get-go, you can tell that this movie looks nice. The level of action, cinematography, editing, and visuals can all be seen from the very first scene in the film. Their hard work at making this one heck of a pretty film is always in the foreground, but that’s obviously not the issue at hand. It always takes more than a pretty shot to make a great film. That being said, everything here was done very well, and that requires praise, even if the abundance of visuals hurts the rest of the film.

NARRATIVE ARC – 10/10 (100%)

Introduction – 2/2 | Inciting Incident – 2/2 | Obstacles – 2/2 | Climax – 2/2 | Resolution – 2/2

Here, we have yet another example of, technically, a perfectly acceptable narrative structure. Even when all else may fail, you can always count on the story to have a solid beginning, middle, and end with plenty of character goals, and technically, strengths, weaknesses, and obstacles. There’s nothing wrong here, narratively-speaking. But again, it’s only a piece of the puzzle. There’s much more to a film that these technical aspects.

ENTERTAINMENT – 4/10 (40%)

Rewatchability – 1/2 | Fun Experience – 1/2 | Impulse/Buy – 1/2 | Impulse/Talk – 0/2 | Sucks You In – 1/2

The problem with being a middle-film is that no matter how good or bad the movie is, you kind of have to watch it in order to get to the eventual Point B, or else you’ll be completely confused. Even as confusing and complex the film can be, it does have incredibly important plot points that will no doubt be recurring in the next film, so yes…you have to see it, which means if you like ANY of the films in the franchise and want to rewatch it as a whole, you just can’t skip this film, which is why rewatchability gets half points. This is the same basic reason for the impulse to buy score. In general, I’d buy it to rewatch with the rest of the series, but not to watch it on its own…it’s confusing, but again…just because it’s the middle film and has that importance that you just can’t ignore, I’d have no problem owning it. The fun experience got half points mostly because of the visuals, which were indeed done well, and kept the ball rolling. Finally, I’d say that the film is so complex that if you blink, you’ll probably not understand the rest of the movie, so that’s what the sucks you in score is all about.

SPECIALTY – 30/40 (75%)

Franchise – 10/10 | Sequel – 5/10 | Universe – 5/10 | Halfway Decent – 10/10

When it comes to the specialty category for any big franchise, your expectations basically fall on how it fits in in the franchise, in the universe as a whole, and how it does as a sequel. I’d say that behind all the complexities and convolution, it still felt like it belonged in there as a Fantastic Beasts film, so that got full points. I’ve never really felt the connection so much with Harry Potter, even though it is the same universe. A big part of why is probably due to America, maybe it’s due to the characters or creatures, but just because they ride on brooms doesn’t make it feel like it fits in the universe as much, so that’s why it got half points. As a sequel, I did feel as though there was a need for it to exist, but as for creating something new, I didn’t feel that as much. Finally, I always ask if it is halfway decent; did the filmmakers ultimately make the movie that they wanted to make from the get-go. No question in my mind, of course they did.

TOTAL SCORE – 63%

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