MovieBob Reviews Fantastic Beasts The Crimes of Grindelwald

first_img Is Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald good?It’s terrible.How terrible?I’m not going to say it’s the worst movie I’ve ever seen; but it’s very possibly the worst prequel — the new low-point for expository minutiae-obsessed, continuity-porn, anti-narrative in the “Cinematic Universe” era of blockbuster filmmaking. Everyone needs to go apologize to Phantom Menace, The Hobbit, X-Men Origins: Wolverine and Solo. Well… maybe not Wolverine.What happened?Warner Bros. was in a tight spot: They wanted more Harry Potter movies, but J.K. Rowling hadn’t written more full books and they can’t actually just make new stuff up on their own under the licensing deal. So instead they put together a weird side-story ostensibly about Eddie Redmayne as a guy who’s eventually going to write one of the Hogwarts textbooks (“Fantastic Beasts & Where to Find Them”) but for now is just a whiny this-universe version of a Pokemon Trainer who gets wrapped up in the machinations of Johnny Depp as Grindelwald, the bad guy who was the bad guy before Voldemort — that part seemed to be an partial-coincidence in the first film, but now takes center stage.And this doesn’t work out?There just isn’t really a story here, is the thing – at least not one worth telling. It’s a bunch of characters who are all revealed or implied to be great-aunts and uncles or whatnot of the characters we actually care about from the original films reciting one-another’s Wikipedia entries.What’s the actual story — limiting spoilers, if possible?It goes like this: Everyone in the Wizarding World is converging on Paris to look for Ezra Miller as Creedence, the superhuman magic orphan from the previous movie, because of his powerful magic — which may come from his possibly being the long-lost heir to the lineage of a powerful wizard bloodline. Grindelwald believes he can harness this power to kill Dumbledore (Jude Law) the only person standing in the way of his plot to take over the world, and various teams of Wizard Police from America, France and the UK are trying to find him and (probably) kill him to prevent that… but Dumbledore wants Redmayne’s Newt Scamander to find him and NOT kill him instead.Okay, so it’s a little busy…I wasn’t finished.…Oh.Also (eventually) on hand are Katherine Watterston as Tina (Newt’s would-be love interest) representing the American Wizard Cops, her psychic sister Queenie and her mortal boyfriend Jacob, Newt’s normal non-twitchy handsome guy brother, a British wizard cop engaged to a lady wizard with a familiar last name who loved Newt once upon a time, a few other people who want to find and/or kill Ezra Miller for largely unrelated reasons, Nicolas Flammel (the immortal alchemist who created The Sorceror’s Stone — you remember, from the first movie?)  and Nagini.Nagini? As in Voldermort’s pet snake?Yeah… it turns out she was actually a Korean woman with a genetic were-snake curse going on, but at this point she’s only  a snake sometimes. To answer your follow-up question: No, none of this seems to actually change or inform anything about her presence in the original series.Okay, but can it really be that bad?Again, without spoiling: Most of the main “mystery” culminates in a round-robin exposition shouting-match sequence as terrible as anything from The Room in which 2/3rds of the speaking cast stand around shouting pieces of his backstory at each other and it’s this endless melange of family betrayals and rape and illegitimate children and inheritance and bloodlines and honor and infanticide and surname swapping and lineage conspiracies and longstanding blood feuds between noble houses — because Game of Thrones has convinced studios that THIS is what people want every goddamn genre franchise to BE now.What do the “Fantastic Beasts” even have to do with any of this?Not much. It’s VERY clear both Rowling and the filmmakers have abandoned any ambition to make “The Wizarding World” movies anything more than a live-reading of their own appendices, but they also need to be big FX blockbusters so even though the STORY is all about people we don’t care about arguing over a mopey dork’s genealogy the movie just awkwardly generates an excuse for Redmayne to wrestle with a fake-looking CGI monster for a few minutes.So you don’t recommend it.No. This is everything wrong with movies like this: “Worldbuilding” as structure instead of texture, exposition instead of narrative, brand-reinforcement instead of theme, assumptions that properties like Harry Potter have maintained a hold on fans because of the “stuff” and not the stories and reactions associated with them. In the spectrum of bad franchise movies, it’s as bad as the Dark Universe Mummy — and for about the same reasons… but paired to even the least of the original Potter movies, it’s a flat-out insult.More MovieBob Reviews on Reviews: ‘Overlord’MovieBob Reviews: ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’MovieBob Reviews: ‘Suspiria’ Stay on target MovieBob Reviews: ‘Shadow’MovieBob Reviews: ‘The Curse of La Llorona’ last_img read more