by Eli Sokeland

With the first entry in the series, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, the story built up a significant world from the Harry Potter universe. Not only did it introduce a new protagonist, the film also expanded on the wonderous world of the international wizarding communities. Therefore, this sequel has a lot to uphold compared to the high standard its predecessor set.

Fantastic Beasts: Crimes of Grindelwald quickly dashes any hopes of improving against the first film. While the movie has a multitude of flaws, there is one major issue that is a consistent plague: the lack of a cohesive story.

Graphic by Malia Hutton

The crimes of Credence?

Image from IMDb

Throughout the advertisements, Grindelwald is shown off as the major focus of the film. The producers even put his name in the the title. However, Grindelwald’s placement in the film makes him feel like a side character. Instead, Crimes of Grindelwald focuses on Credence, who is an obscurial from the previous movie. The character himself is dismally flat throughout the entire series. In the first film, it made sense that he was wimpish because of his abusive stepmother. This personality continues into the second film, despite the absence of his stepmother.

Throughout the entire movie, Credence only says around a dozen words. This would be fine if he was a side character. Newt even thought he was dead in the beginning of the film. Instead, the producers place the entire film around him without changing his personality. This is made obvious through the bare minimum dialogue and constant creepy looks that he gives to the other characters.

The reason for the story’s focus on Credence is because of his strong magical powers and his naive ability to join anyone who can tell him about his past. Credence’s pure existence and thrival within the magical community is incredibly strange. Since he is an obscurial, he shouldn’t even be alive. Furthermore, Credence also manages to actually navigate the wizarding world in search of his relatives.

The family soap opera

Image from IMDb

The slim plot that the movie does pertain focuses on several family dramas, primarily in regards to Credence. Not only does he have family issues, this is also evident through the other characters as well. For example, Newt and his brother Theseus share several awkward interactions within the film due to his position in the Ministry of Magic.

That example is miles ahead in simplicity than that of the other family dramas. That’s right, there are plenty of other dramas. From the brothers’ feud, the insane bloodline of Lita LeStrange’s family, and the weird love between Queenie and Jacob, there are too many conflicts for the film to fully address.

Without the time to fully explain each family issue, it creates giant gaps in backstory that are essential to the characters’ actions. The film only shows stubborn people not doing simple tasks for unknown reasons. It is only near the end of the film when the plot finally explains, in the short time that it has, why characters were making it difficult on themselves.

However, there is one exception to this confusion that was rather satisfying. This was the role that Dumbledore played within the film. Instead of tossing him in with the rest of the mess, the plot primarily keeps Dumbledore at Hogwarts. Due to the small amount of time that Dumbledore is shown, the scenes that do contain him are carefully crafted. The film quickly shows Dumbledore’s true cunning nature by recruiting Newt to fight Grindelwald for him. Furthermore, the backstory between Grindelwald and Dumbledore is straightforward and admiring.

Grindelwald vs. the Ministry of Magic

Image from IMDb

When it comes to the movie’s portrayal of good against evil, it is sorely lacking in multiple areas. With the first film, there wasn’t much explanation behind all of the crimes that Grindelwald did in order for them to warrant his capture. Therefore, Crimes of Grindelwald needs a lot of backstory and action to really build its villain. However, the film does the opposite. While the film provides background in regards to Dumbledore and it does show him murdering a couple wizards, he is oddly missing throughout the film. This could be due to the amount of other drama or Johnny Depp’s court issues, but it is still disappointing.

Furthermore, the film never shows Grindelwald actually recruiting an army to take over the world. Therefore, the ending feels rushed because of the sudden action that Grindelwald decides to take, without any reason whatsoever. This could be because the film practically introduces another villain: the Ministry of Magic.

Throughout the Harry Potter universe, the Ministry of Magic has always been rather questionable in terms of ethics. However, there was always some good that was presented in them within these films. In Crimes of Grindelwald, all ethics are thrown out the window. In the film, the Ministry of Magic is constantly acting as judge, jury, and executioner. For example, one of the Ministry’s wizards literally murders another person because they got a little frightened. While this may be JK Rowling’s poor attempt to display modern issues like police brutality, it doesn’t translate well in a fictional setting.

Visually jarring effects

Image from IMDb

When remembering the old franchise, the magic was always entertaining to watch. Luckily, this continues to be the case in Crimes of Grindelwald. For example, it was entertaining to see the use of magic dust as a method for showing Newt what occurred at an accident before he got there.

Despite this example, there aren’t many other cases of magic that series veterans don’t know about. The movie reuses a lot of the same spells from the previous series, or they simply don’t explain how a new spell works. While this might because of the lack of the school environment, it would be reasonable to explain how new spells work in order to avoid any major plot holes.

Also, the series doesn’t present magic as much as the previous film. While there are still magical beasts and spells that were honestly a major highlight of the film, it was definitely pushed to the side in favor of a more plot-driven story. However, the additional use of these magical moments would have created a greater sense of connection between the plot and characters.

Besides spells, the use of basic visual effects were dismal. For example, the movie opens up with a chariot riding in a storm. While this might not be practical, it also distorts many of the characters’ actions within this sequence. This creates confusion within the viewer as they try to understand what is happening within the film. Furthermore, there were several editing flaws that should have been solved during production. In one scene, a character is examining a desk at Hogwarts. While this may seem like a simple scene, the amount of the camera shaking was incredibly unprofessional. This and scenes where the same piece of footage is reused were incredibly disappointing because of how simple it should have been to fix.

Images: IMDb

Graphic: Malia Hutton

Featured Image: IMDb

Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald

4.3 Okay

Overall, 'The Crimes of Grindelwald' is a jumbled mess that fails to build on the previous installment. While the film does show Grindelwald, the plot stumbles with drama completely unrelated to the villain. This, along with poorly edited visuals, creates a dull sense of imagination to any fan of the Harry Potter universe.

  • Plot 3
  • Action 5
  • Visuals 5

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