Movie Review: Grindelwald’s Crimes are far from Fantastic

Movie Review: Grindelwald’s Crimes are far from Fantastic
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About the Author

Tyler Collins

Tyler Collins

Tyler Collins is a thespian and performer who has worked with theatre, film, and TV across Ontario. He comes from Campbellton, NB, and has lived in North Oakville over 20 years. He is a graduate of Journalism from Sheridan College. Twitter: @MrTyCollins

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Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald has a high standard breathing down its neck. Being part of J.K. Rowling’s wizarding world, it belongs to one of cinema’s biggest properties. All but the most blindly devoted Potterheads will be bored. A different story with clearer stakes and more loveable beasts would be fantastic.But while these beasts are bigger, it’s also bloated and boring.

Being the second movie in the Fantastic Beasts franchise and the tenth in the Harry Potter canon, most audiences seeing the film will be familiar with the magical setting. The alienating quality of Grindelwald is, unlike most magic movies, anyone unprepared will be totally lost in what’s going on.

Following the events of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, magizoologist Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne) has returned to Europe. An old friend has asked him to find the dark wizard Grindelwald (Johnny Depp) and confront him about his plans.

Those plans involve stirring the hidden community of wizards and witches against the rest of humanity. To stop Grindelwald’s assault against the non-magical, Newt must find him before various magical governments, rogue wizards or Newt’s own friends find him first.

If you haven’t already seen the first Fantastic Beasts, or at least another Harry Potter film, stay very far away. It will be hopeless trying to understand the vernacular and names of everyone running around. The action-like title is also misleading; there are few beasts or crimes featured in the story.

Photo: Warner Bros. Pictures

The worst part of watching Crimes of Grindelwald is the disastrously slow pacing. Effective stories on film are told by a series of events. If nothing is happening, there’s no drama to watch. Without spoiling anything, this movie is a two hour build up to one interesting secret being revealed.

J. K. Rowling’s screenplay is filled with a nonstop barrage of intimate conversations. There are almost 20 named characters in the main story, all in one overly extended game of cat-and-mouse.

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Once Grindelwald is found, the final confrontation is devoid of any excitement. Instead of great moments of magical peril and adventure, the extended sequence shows the multitude of wizards each deciding whether they’re willing to join Grindelwald’s ranks or not.

Worse still, there isn’t even a great deal of magic! For a cinematic universe and cast of characters that revolves all around magic, there’s a noticeable lack of it. Aside from a few nifty spells, all major events focus only on the politics and “mystery” of finding Grindelwald.

Among the few saving graces are a number of performers who’ve created visceral characters from a cluttered script. Katharine Waterston’s Tina and Alison Sudol’s Queenie both returning from the first film, are still highlights of the cast. So too is Ezra Miller’s Credence Barebone, one of the few characters with true drive.

These few moments of interest, however, aren’t enough to sustain the other two sluggish hours. This second instalment in the growing franchise is a boring step in the wrong direction.

Instead of being spellbound, all but the most blindly devoted Potterheads will be bored. Maybe a different story with clearer stakes and more loveable beasts would bring the movie from forlorn to fantastic.

Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald
1 1/2 out of 4 stars

PG, 2hrs 13mins. Fantasy Drama Adventure Epic.
Directed by David Yates.
Starring Eddie Redmayne, Katharine Waterston, Alison Sudol, Dan Fogler, Jude Law and Johnny Depp.
Now Playing at Film.Ca Cinemas, Cineplex Winston Churchill and Cineplex Oakville & VIP. Also in IMAX.

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