A ‘Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald’ review – Second time’s the charm?

I refuse to believe that Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald is part of the Harry Potter franchise. I struggle to understand how a brilliant series that spurred along the imagination of millions can be rendered into something which is obviously just being made for profit. Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald is honestly just a filler for Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, and a plot set-up for the third. I quite liked the first movie – it had its flaws but promised quirky creatures and a whole new view on the wizarding world. This one, however, had nothing to offer except pointless backstories and a black mark on the Harry Potter name.

I sat down at the Commodore Cinema with my 3D glasses at the ready, mega excited to watch this new instalment with my equally excited friend sat beside me. Twenty minutes in however, and I genuinely had to nudge my friend awake, as his eyes were closed, and his head had fallen back. I couldn’t really blame him though – a whole lot of nothing was happening on-screen. I came here for the cool little creatures and Eddie Redmayne’s face – instead I was left watching a different story entirely, featuring an utterly substance-less plot.

The whole movie was badly thought-out. Instead of investing time building up the emotional climaxes and plot, you have a whole story released in a single sentence of dialogue. Sentences such as “Oh, Leta, you were thoroughly hated at school?” would be dropped mid-dialogue in order to cover years of backstory – a technique that utterly failed.

It’s so difficult to even try and recount the events of the film – so much would happen within such a short period of time that it all blurred together in flashes of grey and brown. Credence is brooding even more moodily in the corner, Leta is even more annoying than usual, and Jacob apparently remembers who Queenie is. The latter two, who you couldn’t help but root for in the first movie, are now romantically involved again, but they can no longer be with each other as he’s a muggle (sorry, nomaj) and she’s a Wizard. Queenie decides to join Grindelwald’s gang to normalise Wizard-Muggle marriage, leaving her lover at the hands of the bad guy and losing him anyway. There is no need for any of it. I just want the interactions with Newt and his creatures to come back.

Speaking of Newt – what is wrong with his love interest? There was a lovely backstory behind Newt and Leta – both quirky rejects who’d look out for each other at school – but alas, Leta married Newt’s brother (his deadly enemy, for no reason) and Newt now fancies a plain girl that cried when he said she had nice eyes. I feel like the Fantastic Beasts series merely serves as a perfect example of why you should read the book instead of watching the film.

Don’t get me wrong, some bits of the movie were great. It’s just difficult trying to pick out thirty seconds of greatness amongst the larger segments of drivel. I honestly feel like I should have written notes to keep track of the sheer amount going on, as it creates needless drama just for the sake of it. No wonder my friend began to doze off – it’s sad, but you find yourself simply not caring about the plot, characters, or backstory.

Imagine if someone other than JK Rowling proposed this movie idea to Hollywood – there is absolutely no way would anyone vouch for it (although perhaps that would be for the best?). I’ve always said that Rowling isn’t a good writer, but is instead a delightful storyteller – alas, it now seems that I was wrong on both counts. Speaking of which, Rowling is crazy rich – why on earth would she want to draw out her legacy with this nonsense? The only explanation I can think of is that she’s struggling to stay relevant. I miss the 2007 author.

Honestly though, good luck if you’ve not read every single bit of Harry Potter paraphernalia prior to this movie. If you haven’t studied all the movies and all the books, you’re going to be utterly lost for a large majority of the film. As it is, I found myself asking what the hell was going on – and I pride myself on being a nerd.

The film finally drew to a close, and after a split second of silence, both rows in front and behind me had similar reactions of “what was that?”. With the movie theatre packed to the brim, there was so many deflated attitudes that I had to get out of there pretty quick, lest I be drawn in. Honestly, it’s actually quite impressive how amongst the dazzling sorcery, the film lacks any magic.

Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald is now playing at the Commodore Cinema every day at 7:30pm until the 29th November.