Directed By: David Yates
Release Date: November 16,2018
Starring: Eddie Redmayne, Katherine Waterston, Dan Fogler, Johnny Depp, Jude Law
It's been three weeks now since the release of Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald, and though I saw the film opening night, I've sat down nearly each day since in an attempt to write about the big sequel only to repeatedly find that my enthusiasm just isn't there. I've had numerous conversations about the film over the weeks since, of course, but nearly all of them have centered around just how disappointing the whole thing is, which is incredibly frustrating, as I'm a huge Harry Potter fan – something I've covered in depth enough on here already – and even enjoyed the first Fantastic Beasts for setting up a whole new world of possibilities despite its flaws.
Unfortunately, Grindelwald doubles down on those very flaws rather than learns from them, resulting in a mess of a film that left me utterly bored for much of its runtime and generally unenthused with where the franchise is going next, a complete 180 from how I felt walking out of its predecessor only two years ago. That's not to say there aren't a handful of high points – and I'll be getting to them eventually – but the lows are just too glaring for me to overlook this time around to the point that I have no problem saying that this sequel is easily my least favorite entry of all the Wizarding World films we've gotten over the years since we took our first steps into it on the big screen back in 2001.
Oddly enough, on paper, Grindelwald has a pretty simple premise: A year after Johnny Depp's titular Dark Wizard was captured at the end of the first Fantastic Beasts, he escapes and travels to Paris in order to woo countless new followers, chief among them being Credence Barebone (Ezra Miller), who survived the events of New York City and has since gone into hiding, to his cause. At the same time, a young Albus Dumbledore (Jude Law) tasks Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne) with finding Credence before Grindelwald can, setting the eccentric magizoologist off on the hunt.
Where Grindelwald stumbles, however, is that it takes its premise and loads up layer after layer on top of it of narrative threads, all sorts of characters, and an abundance of twists, turns, and callbacks. I've seen the experience of watching this film described as "what people who never read the books must have felt like watching the Harry Potter movies," a pretty fitting description, as the film is so overloaded with information that all too often seems to come straight out of thin air, the audience expected to be clued into things that are rarely given actual context.
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