Full disclosure: I’m a bit of a fanboy of this whole Wizarding World thing so my opinion may be (it is) a bit biased.
I grew up living vicariously through these characters as they navigated a world so kooky and unique that every entry from the first Harry Potter to The Crimes of Grindelwald I have been 100%, all the way in. Are there weaker entries than others? Absolutely but even the lesser films still evoke that magical escapism that makes these films truly something special. The translation from book to screen has always been a precarious endeavor that rarely fulfills the demands and desires of fans everywhere. Thanks to J.K. Rowling retaining creative control that translation went over as perfect as one can get to such an impossible goal. And they did it eight times. Now it’s the era of Fantastic Beasts. Now presenting- Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald.
I can’t outright call this a failure, my (biased) fandom won’t allow it but I can say honestly, however much it pains me, that it’s a failure in the eyes of its predecessors. As it turns out you can create a film filled to the brim with magic and have none of it jump off the screen. That’s what worked so tremendously about the previous movies, the magic was felt rather than simply just witnessed. You saw it, you felt it, you yearned for more no matter how much you got it was never enough. With Crimes it leaves you with spectacle and new information that makes you say, “Huh, that was… interesting, I guess.” It alludes to new adventures to come but it begs the question, does this entry demand further consumption of this once heralded world? Not really. I hate that I have to write this, I love(d) this world.
Let’s talk about what does work and go from there. They say it’s easier to rip the bandaid off in one fell swoop but I’m stubborn so, no.
The majority of the cast is as charismatic as you would hope for them to be. Eddie Redmayne continues to prove he was made for this role as the charming qualities of his offbeat character swoon the audience. Dan Fogler is the comedic relief once again and he does he part admirably. New to the wizarding world is Jude Law cast brilliantly as a younger Albus Dumbledore. His presence on screen, criminally short, is every bit as memorable as the character has come to be from the lore of Harry Potter. He is likable, deviously but charmingly, coy and always seems to find the more playful qualities of this amazing character. This playfulness however never detracts from the more dramatic moments when he conveys the pain of a man torn between his past, present and future. Unfortunately when it comes to the cast this is where the “magic” stops. Not one person in this film gives an awful performance but is it any better to be nothing beyond forgettable? These characters are there because the story says they should be there, not because they need to be, but to fill space and screen time.
A story should explain itself as it carries out through natural progression. When this can’t be achieved filmmakers turn to one of the cheapest tricks in the book, exposition. While some exposition isn’t necessarily a bad thing, sometimes it is very much a necessity, when such a large portion of the plot and character motivation must be explained by a character simply spewing out the information it can make the experience feel disingenuine. The reason for an entire scene of pure exposition? The aimless plot.
Since most on the screen and in the audience can’t decipher a coherent plot a singular character is brought in to explain just what in the hell is going on. Even then it never connects in a way that works even slightly. More than uninteresting characters and a mindless plot I believe the greatest slight against the once spotless record of wizarding adventures is that it’s plainly, painfully boring. It does a whole lot for nothing to really take place. Bad guys do bad things and good guys try to stop them. There’s things to love about this movie but there’s far more that leave you scratching your head wishing Harry Potter would just return already.
From a visual standpoint Crimes is absolutely stunning. The visual effects are gorgeous featuring some truly remarkable sequences. Paired together with an expectedly epic score by James Newton Howard these action packed moments are highly stimulating from a visual aspect. Unfortunately these moments of brilliance lie completely with the visuals and rarely with the story in tow. It’s empty spectacle that stretches for over two hours.
Please forgive the nonsensical opinion I’m about to give: I recommend it to fans if for no other reason than to at least in some way experience what previous films did for us so gloriously. This films hints at what was before and that is where the magic lies, with what was rather than what is here now. That said I can’t fully endorse recommending the film primarily because it doesn’t capture the emotions it should nor does it give any reason to want to continue on. This film leaves me torn. I wanted so badly to like it that I was willing to look past the shortcomings it may have had. But when a movie is more parts shortcomings than successes it proves rather difficult to ignore those moments. If I ignored those moments this would have been a 45 minute short film in my memory. See the film, but see it with curbed enthusiasm. When what was is magical, what is cannot be anything less. Mediocrity isn’t enough. Sorry Potter fans, I wanted to love it too.
Rated PG-13 For: some sequences of fantasy action
Runtime: 134 minutes
After Credits Scene: No
Genre: Adventure, Family, Fantasy
Starring: Eddie Redmayne, Dan Fogler, Jude Law, Johnny Depp,❤Zoë Kravitz❤, Ezra Miller, Katherine Waterston
Directed By: David Yates
Out of 5 Nerdskulls
Story: 2/ Acting: 3.5/ Directing: 3/ Visuals: 5
OVERALL: 2.5 Nerdskulls
Buy to Own: For completionists, yes. Everyone else it’s a take it or leave it kind of experience.
Check out the trailer below:
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