Reviews Say Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald Is Just Criminally Dull
Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald will arrive in theaters next week, but reviews are out now, and the consensus seems to be leaning more negative/mixed than the previous installment.
The complaints seem to be that the movie is overstuffed, and there are a lot of things from the first movie that get hand-waved in order to facilitate the dynamics the writers want to play with this time around. While I enjoy Newt’s sweetness, it seems some critics still find fault in that, and Jude Law’s Dumbledore is charming but under-baked.
According to the A.V. Club, the movie is heavily CGI, which is not new to Harry Potter, but the CGI in older movies was there to highlight the already existing magic of the universe. Hogwarts worked as a setting because it was this epicenter where all things—even magic—seemed possible.
Taking Harry Potter into the “real world” is effective in terms of wanting to expand upon the universe, but it ends up turning everything into a cold, unfeeling place. Although, I do take umbrage at the attacks on Newt Scamander, because he is a sweetie pie.
“For side color, the film relies almost exclusively on its CGI menagerie, a less imaginative-than-usual collection of eponymous critters, cute or gnashing as needed.
“[…] Newt, meanwhile, never conveys anything resembling an impure impulse. He’s as tame as the cuddliest beasts stuffed into his suitcase, and even less fantastic than the series he headlines.”
Much has been made about the comparisons between Trump and Grindelwald, fascism and race within Harry Potter, and specifically Grindelwald’s narrative. I myself have always been critical of that aspect of Rowling’s writing, because it’s never well explained or explored. However, Voldemort was such an effective villain, and it was an isolated story that worked.
Grindelwald, standing in as a kind of Voldemort Act 1, seems not to match that, as Variety says:
“[Rowling’s] allegorical abilities are more muted here, with the divisions between good and evil even starker, and Grindelwald’s blood-and-soil philosophies seeming less an interpretation of historical or present-day fascism than simply a thin, unimaginative echo.”
A bunch of reviews touch on how there’s no exploration of the intimate relationship between Grindelwald and Dumbledore as lovers. At The Mary Sue, we have made our disappointments known. There has not been enough done for Rowling to get the credit she does for making Dumbledore gay, if we are never going to see it in canon. It seems like we might have to wait for 2020 to get how Grindelwald and Dumbledore are “closer than brothers.”
The L.A. Times says,
“An excruciating bore just barely enlivened by stray glimpses of Hogwarts, a flicker of gay romance and a menagerie of computer-generated creepy-crawlies, “Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald” is enough to make J.K. Rowling fans weep in frustration, provided they can even keep their eyes open.”
Reviews about Depp’s performance seem to be hit or miss, and considering all the backlash and side-eye that has come from putting Depp in the role, with his history of abuse allegations, if he’s not knocking it out of the park at every turn, what’s the point? Plus, we get a young, hot, Jude Law Albus Dumbledore, and we don’t even get to fully enjoy that because we’re too busy with other characters? Deep sigh.
“It’s all the other subplots that damage that notion, from a charisma-free Johnny Depp taking over the role of evil Wizard Gellert Grindelwald to a convoluted section all about the family tree of Credence Barebone (Ezra Miller). Portions involving a young Albus Dumbledore (Jude Law) can’t reach their full potential; they’re consistently cut short to zing back to yet another plotline […]”
On the more positive side, we have IGN, who praise the performances of Depp, Eddie Redmayne, Zoë Kravitz, and the romantic subplots between Queenie and Jacob, Tina, and Newt (all of which the negative reviews called out as problems). They do mention that not every character gets to shine, though, and criticize Nagini and Credence’s stories for being pretty bland in comparison to everyone else.
There is also Mirror, putting in a positive review only to point out that Potter fans already pretty much know whether they’re going to want to see this movie, no matter what reviews say. So, what’s your stance on it?
(image: Warner Bros)
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