Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them was anything but fantastic. You can take the absolute worst moment in the entire Harry Potter saga and even that would fare better against the best this squib of a spin-off had to offer. Absolutely devoid of all the magic & sense of wonder that made the original series one of the most beloved franchises of all time, Fantastic Beasts was dull, needless & pointless.
And The Crimes of Grindelwald is even worse. Despite lacking a strong foundation, the second instalment in the Fantastic Beasts series continues to add more weight to the pile, thus further weakening the already fragile understructure. And instead of rectifying the mistakes of the first film, it only ends up making some new ones. In short, this is one of the absolute worst films to surface in cinemas last year.
The story of Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald continues the adventures of the eccentric & introverted Newt Scamander who finds himself in the middle of a new threat looming over the wizarding world after Gellert Grindelwald escapes from his imprisonment and starts gathering followers. Reunited with his companions and enlisted by Albus Dumbledore, Scamander must stop the dark wizard at all costs.
Directed by David Yates, the film is so busy setting the stage for future instalments that it forgets to tell a proper story of its own. In fact, the entire film feels like a filler than an actual sequel, and it’s just as bland & boring as the previous chapter, if not more. As for the characters, the new additions are as awful as reprising ones, and same applies to those magical creatures who never were interesting to begin with.
Written by J.K. Rowling, her script is devoid of everything that made her books click, for the plot is all over the place and not a single character exhibits an arc worthy of our emotional investment. The film fails at even the basic aspects of storytelling and can simply be summarised as one lame scene stacked on top of another. There are too many subplots, too many characters, and yet it all feels superfluous in the end.
There is not an ounce of magic, excitement or sense of adventure evident in those moments of spectacle but that’s expected when the basic elements aren’t properly executed. Production design isn’t bad. Camerawork is passable. Editing is terrible, for the story is overlong & poorly paced. The VFX ranges from good to cartoonish. And James Newton Howard’s score hits the right chords only on couple occasions.
Coming to the performances, Eddie Redmayne, Katherine Waterston, Dan Fogler, Alison Sudol, Ezra Miller & Johnny Depp reprise their respective roles while Jude Law & Zoë Kravitz are in as Albus Dumbledore & Leta Lestrange respectively. I’ve no idea what Nagini is doing here. What’s the point? What purpose does she serve in this tale? None! Anyway, as expected, none of the actors manage to leave a lasting impression.
On an overall scale, Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald is never able to conjure a strong spell and fails to stimulate the senses. A lacklustre entry in a lacklustre spin-off series, it is as lifeless & soulless blockbuster filmmaking can get and because of that, there is no trouble whatsoever in booking its spot amongst the worst films of 2018. Far too preoccupied with franchise building than anything else, The Crimes of Grindelwald proves that scriptwriting is a different ballgame and J.K. Rowling is no good at it.