Ten beautiful films are set in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. The latest stands alone as a convoluted mess.
Directed by David Yates (Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 and Part 2, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them), Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald stars Eddie Redmayne, Johnny Depp, Jude Law, Katherine Waterston, Dan Fogler, Ezra Miller, Zoë Kravitz, Alison Sudol, Callum Turner and Claudia Kim.
Set recently after the first installment, The Crimes of Grindelwald sees magizoologist Newt Scamander in another adventure with crazy, magical creatures. Only this time, he has to go up against the infamous Grindelwald, the evilest wizard, up to this point, that wants to rule both the wizard and human world.
I have been a fan of all the Harry Potter films including the Fantastic Beasts spinoff. That said, this new sequel of the first spinoff is the worst of all the Wizarding World films, one that feels like a dementor sucked all the life out of its script.
In Fantastic Beasts, while a couple of subplots rode along the main storyline, it was still easy to follow, especially because the four main characters were so endearing. The Crimes of Grindelwald shuns that strategy, and instead, a bunch of subplots tangle as the main storyline. Hard to follow? You have no idea.
One subplot includes Ezra Miller’s Creedence wanting to find his parents and his origin, while, at the same time, another depicts a broken love connection between Fogler’s Jacob Kowalski and Sudol’s Queenie Goldstein.
Far too few characters that the film asks the audience to care about don’t get the right amount of screen time or dialogue. The problem with this confused narrative is J.K. Rowling’s script.
Rowling is a novelist, and it shows with this script. She wanted to add various details that didn’t matter; at least, in script form it didn’t. It may work in her books, since they’re longer. richer and more descriptive. Rowling didn’t write the scripts for the Harry Potter films, though.
She did, however, write the script for the first Fantastic Beasts. Here, it seems like she wanted to be more ambitious, which I commend, but it did not work in The Crimes of Grindelwald.
What makes a fantasy movie successful is a relatable or likable cast surrounded or consumed by the extraordinary. Fantastic Beasts set this up, only to have The Crimes of Grindelwald suppress their impact.
Depp is wonderful as Grindelwald and Redmayne is charismatic as Scamander. All the actresses and actors do their best in an otherwise saturated film that doesn’t give them justice. They don’t have much to play off besides confusion.
Director David Yates also does a satisfactory job creating a competent film with what he is given. The thrilling opening scene, for example, though exciting, sets almost a false introductory tone to what we get for the rest of the film.
On top of a puzzling story structure, The Crimes of Grindelwald commits the crime of being boring as hell in multiple scenes. Maybe it’s the lack of empathy I had for the characters, maybe it’s the number of characters wedged into an almost two-and-a-half-hour-long film. The action scenes and even the beauty of the Wizarding World seemed a drag to get through.
The Crimes of Grindelwald is bogged down with a poor script from an otherwise extremely-talented writer. There’s fun to be had in some of the twists and turns that will tickle a true Potter fan, but the newest installment of one of the most magical places on Earth is unlikely to win over any new ones.