Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald

by | Nov 16, 2018 | 0 comments

A Film That Struggles to Tell a Stand-Alone Story

The problem with many movies today is that there is an aspiration to mirror television series since that is what consumers are hooked to these days. This leads to a certain corruption of the pact between moviegoer and filmmaker because we are beginning to get incomplete stories.

Fantastic Beasts: the Crimes of Grindelwald is the second of five films that will comprise a prequel series to the Harry Potter series. In this film, we get a further background of Gellert Grindelwald (Johnny Depp) a fascist-like wizard who thinks wizards and non-magical people should be separated. The film follows Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne) the protagonist of the previous film, as he journeys to 1927 Paris.

As seen with the previous film in this prequel series, writer J.K. Rowling and director David Yates struggle to tell a complete and standalone story. While 2016’s Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them seemed to be a great beginning, The Crimes of Grindelwald seems to be all middle. Sure there is plenty of Potter references and gold nuggets for the most hardcore of fans, and there’s plenty of character development to admire for the more moderate viewers. Nevertheless, the feeling of being served a partial story is one hard to overcome.

J.K. Rowling was very successful at providing both standalone stories within her books, as well as a larger, overarching journey for her characters. For films, as with books, the core plot should be resolved by the end; sequels are meant to revisit characters but with a completely new plot. For the Fantastic Beasts franchise, Rowling seems to have crafted a single plot and story and has cut her opus into five random sections. Rowling also seems to struggle with her exposition; having to tell stories visually is very different than writing on paper (both equally admirable skills). Thus the information Rowling seeks to give us can sometimes be delivered in clumsy ways, with characters breaking off into speeches of their background and motivations that break the rhythm of the film.

That’s not to say that this diminishes the impact and continued creativity of Rowling’s story. The Crimes of Grindelwald is surely a much slower and quiet story than your average blockbuster, but the social commentaries and parallels will be sure to please and intrigue the intellectuals in the audience. I was certainly fascinated with Rowling’s comparison of Grindelwald as a fascist, how his rhetoric and even his rise in 1920s Europe seems to mirror that of Hitler and Mussolini. The speeches and reasoning that Grindelwald gives for his cause are very similar to those we hear from far-right (and not so far-right) world leaders of today.

The film certainly provides depth to Rowling’s wizarding world, but the incompleteness of the story takes away from the well-rounded experience one should experience at the multiplex. Sure, I’ll watch the next film in the franchise, the quality characters and intrigue is there; but the form in which Warner Brother’s is doling out this saga is a cheap and frustrating one indeed. 

  • OVERALL MOVIE RATING 55% 55%

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Who is your favorite Harry Potter character? Let me know in the comments section.

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