(I should reiterate now that this review is going to be loaded with spoilers. If you wish to see the film unsullied, please leave this page.)
A few weeks ago, I made a joke on here about how J.K. Rowling would reveal that “Magi-chlorians” were the cause of magic in the Harry Potter world. It got a decent amount of upvotes since it was both something incredibly dumb and something that was believable for her to do. Well, Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald has twists so goddamn awful that “Magi-chlorians” would have been a step up.
(this is looking much better right about now)
Before I start ripping into the film, let’s go into the things I liked about it. Aside from Eddie Redmayne and Johnny Depp, the actors are pretty good. They get awful material to work with but they do the best they can. Zoe Kravitz is especially good.
In addition, the scenes with the titular fantastic beasts are great. We get some great scenes with Niffler (and some super adorable baby Nifflers too!!!) and there’s a great scene where Newt calms down an abused Zouwu.
It really makes you wonder why the whole movie isn’t just Newt looking for fantastic beasts. The first film had its problems but at least it focused on the beasts and in a way that actually tied in with Grindelwald’s plot.
(more of these please)
With all of the positives out of the way, let’s get into how fucking boring our lead actor is. I’ve made it known that I think Eddie Redmayne is an awful and boring actor and his performance here does nothing to dissuade that opinion. It’s not his worst performance (fuck you, The Danish Girl) but it’s still pretty dire. It’s the same mumbly and dull performance that he gave in the first film.
(easily his best performance)
(Edit: so, this following paragraph has aged abysmally. I still stand by Depp giving a terrible performance but the comments about his personal life have been… debunked, to say the least.)
And then there’s Johnny Depp and, Jesus Christ, he’s just horrid. It’s just Jack Sparrow as a bad guy, that’s fucking it. Hilariously, his character is supposed to be super good at seducing people to his side but since Depp is so bad, it makes it look like one of his lackeys is Imperiusing people just off-camera. Colin Farrell’s performance as the same character (kind of) in the first film was wonderfully ominous and a clear sign that David Yates and J.K. Rowling were fucking fools to replace him with the fucking hack. (I mean, they were fools in the first place to replace their talented nice guy actor with a monstrous hack but this just makes things worse.) He’s Jared Leto in Suicide Squad bad.
(Here’s a puppy in bowtie)
Now let’s get into the script, which makes the Batman v. Superman script look like a triumph of screenwriting. It’s filled with characters acting like idiots to advance the plot and is filled with not one, not two, not even three, but four idiotic reveals. These reveals are so dumb, you’d expect them to come from a writer clueless about the source material and not the person who literally created the universe.
Let’s start with the one most people are familiar with, that fucking Nagini twist. For those blissfully unaware, it’s revealed that Voldemort’s pet snake was once an Indonesian woman (played by a Korean actress) cursed to become a snake. This twist is A.) completely pointless (why can’t Voldermort just have a pet snake?), 2.) pretty damn offensive (helpless Asian woman becomes a mindless beast, nice thinking Jo!), and III.) adds absolutely nothing to the story. The fact that she can turn into a snake adds literally nothing to the story. It only comes up twice in the movie and doesn’t contribute anything meaningful. She could have easily been a sympathetic worker at the circus Credence breaks free from without altering too much of the plot. She only exists so Rowling can remind audiences of a time when she wasn’t an absolute hack writer.
The second dumb reveal is the scene where Dumbledore looks into the Mirror of Erised. Instead of seeing his beloved dead sister Ariana, he seems his younger self hanging out with younger Grindelwald. Yes, his heart’s greatest desire is seeing the man who caused his little sister’s death. Seeing him holding wool socks would have been less insulting. This could be explained as his love for Grindelwald lingering (after all, he doesn’t try to make a move against Grindelwald) but it gets botched by the end. The end reveals that he doesn’t move against Grindelwald not because he still carries a torch for him but because they made a magic blood pact that made it impossible either one to directly attack the other. Not only does this throw a wrench in the backstory (how could the duel that caused Ariana to die occur if their were bound to not attack each other?) but ruins the Mirror of Erised scene. As soon as he gets the magic pact that Grindelwald was carrying (Niffler swiped it, even though it didn’t have any gold in it), he goes to try and destroy it.
Next up is Queenie joining Grindelwald. Yes, she’s in love with a muggle (fuck nomaj, muggle is a less dumb term) and joins with a fucking wizard supremacist. I think this is supposed to represent people like that Trump voter who was married to an undocumented immigrant and was shocked when he was deported but the execution is botched. She decides to join him after he gives a garbled and half-awake speech. It’s supposed to come off as compelling but, as I pointed out a few paragraphs above, Depp is so awful he’s not compelling at all. Poor Alison Sudol is visibly uncomfortable with what Rowling and Yates have her do.
(Queenie in less dumb times)
But the film saves the dumbest for last when Credence is revealed to be Dumbledore’s long-lost brother Aurelius. Fuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuck you Rowling, fuck you, fuck you, fuck you, fuck you, fuck you, fuck you, fuck you, fuck you, fuck you for this beyond hoary cliche. I genuinely can’t believe that they went with something this dumb. There was audible groans from my coworkers when this happened… well, from the ones that were still awake, the movie is also very, very, very boring too, fuck it so much.
(J.K. Rowling to the audience)
Thanks for reading my nerdy treatise and fuck this movie.
Grade: Not recommended