Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald — Overstuffed and Unfocused
(Originally written on December 2, 2018)
Given how pleasantly surprised I was with the previous film in this new franchise, I became curious about how the sequel would fare. When the next film was announced as The Crimes of Grindelwald, it was assumed fans of the Wizarding World would be receiving a film that fleshed out the world, as well as all the new characters introduced. My only wish was to experience a compelling story. So does this movie deliver?
If I’m being honest, while I enjoyed the film, it could have flowed better if it had been more concise in its storytelling. It feels as if J.K. Rowling was trying to cram all her new ideas into this film, but not organizing them enough to let them have some breathing room. The notion of movies juggling multiple characters and story arcs isn’t something new, but for me it all felt disconnected to some degree. Granted, everything and everyone do come together near the end, but some plotlines could have benefited if they were saved for the inevitable sequel. Some moments don’t feel earned, and that didn’t sit right with me.
However, there are certain aspects of the movie I really enjoyed. The world established from the first film continues to show its fantastical nature. If you are a devoted fan of the Wizarding World, you’ll definitely appreciate the subtle nuances presented here. The few magical beasts we get to see are quite charming, but obviously they aren’t the focus of the movie. And of course, we get to see magic being used here and there.
As for the acting, the cast give great performances. However, it’s hard to judge since some characters are given more screen time than others. Speaking of screen time, the two assumed headliners Grindelwald and Dumbledore (played by Johnny Depp and Jude Law, respectively) are unfortunately only shown in snippets. Given how the title has his name in it, you would think Grindelwald would show up more throughout the film. In any case, even if the film is uneven in its character development, the actors themselves deserve credit for acting well with what they are given.
In the end, The Crimes of Grindelwald is an okay film for casual moviegoers, but a fantastic one for more committed fans of the Wizarding World. Though the script could have used some organizing (and perhaps some omissions to save for later), you can’t help but notice J.K. Rowling’s love and creativity for the world she has created.
- A. Shin