Fantastic Beasts 2: The Crimes of Grindelwald Review – Too Much Explaining, not Enough Storytelling
J.K. Rowling’s Fantastic Beasts 2 is now in theaters, and it aims to continue the journey’s of Newt and company, and while it does technically do that, I wouldn’t call it a magical experience. This sequel, like many others that are in trilogies, or in this case, a five film series, was always gonna suffer from not resolving much of anything, but it goes out of its way to do nothing but tee up future threads. This causes the story to suffer, as nothing really happens outside of too much Wizarding World exposition and lore bombs being dropped on your face left and right.
You can check out my full review below. The script is embedded after it if you prefer to read along.
Hey now you Wizard World loving muggles, Matt Heywood here to review Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald, or what I like to call, a nuclear lore bomb.
From top to bottom, Fantastic Beasts 2 is a subpar sequel, which is due in part to the fact that it’s the second film in a five film series, so it’s all mostly setup for subsequent films. But also for the fact that it’s just not a great story thanks to the narrative mostly being a massive wizarding world information dump.
Rather than really tell any interesting story arcs, this sequel opts to further explain and add many new layers of lore to Rowling’s ever growing world of wizards. At times I feel like I missed out on a Wizarding World 101 course that was a pre-req for watching Fantastic Beasts 2. The narrative goes out of its way to connect every dot possible between the main characters of this franchise, as well as tying in threads and references to the Harry Potter franchise.
It’s as if Rowling feels the need to show that every single character she has created is connected in some sort of way, which may work in a series of novels where you can properly build the relationships and a-ha moments, but the limits of cinema make it very hard to do this, which shows in Fantastic Beasts 2.
I can honestly say that nothing really ultimately happens in this sequel outside of setting the stage for the next three movies. The first hour is a pure slog of setup and exposition, but most of it is expressed in a way that implies everyone knows the deep inner workings of Rowling’s universe, so half the time you’re wondering if you missed a key plot element from the original, because it’s being discussed by the characters as if it’s implied knowledge.
Again, this muddiness all ties back to JK trying to force connections between the new characters of the Beasts franchise, and passing mentions for the Potter franchise. I have to give a few other critics credit for pointing out what Rowling is doing with Beasts now, and that is the fact that she is George Lucasing it.
Like George did with the Star Wars prequels, Rowling too is more focused on explaining the lore she introduced, rather than telling stories framed around it. Like I said nothing really happens in this movie outside of a few very curious character choices, especially with Queenie, but I won’t say more on that for spoilers sake.
There are a few redeeming qualities though, such as Jude Law and Eddie Redmayne. It’s too bad this sequel wasn’t just a wizard buddy movie featuring these two flexing their wands about town and actually going on a thrilling adventure while trying to figure out what Grindelwald is up to with Credence and his followers. These are easily the two best characters in the sequel, but Law’s Dumbledore is criminally underused, so again you’re left with more explaining about things, than things actually getting done.
Like her other works, Fantastic Beasts 2 also opts for plot twists that you probably won’t see coming. A few are telegraphed, but are somewhat surprising, but her patented climax twist that has pretty much appeared in all of her works, falls pretty flat thanks to the issues I’ve highlighted.
By the time you get the big character reveal at the end, its impact is blunted by the fact that everything you’ve witnessed before it was so muddy and at times confusing, that the reveal itself just feels like a plot convenience. And one that I think is supposed to shock, but in reality it misses the mark because it just feels like it comes out of nowhere.
I know my tone on this film sounds overly critical, and it may be, but I credit it to the fact that I just expected better out of this franchise. I went in expecting a similar experience to the first Beasts film, and honestly thought it’d be better since most of the main world building had been completed, but that’s just not the case. This sequel is all setup with nothing really happening outside of advancing the chess pieces a bit for the next installment.
Fantastic Beasts 2 earns a 6.5 out of 10 review score from Team EB. If you’re a Potterhead I’m sure you’ll get more out of it thanks to the ridiculous amount of lore it explains, but if you’re like me and have just been a fan of the Potter films and the first Beasts, you will more than likely be a bit disappointed. This film is definitely lacking the magic of the Wizarding World movie franchises, which is ironic considering what this universe is all about.
Thanks for watching, Matt Heywood here signing off for EntertainmentBuddha.com, where we make you a better geek, one post at a time.
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