Trying to fall in love with film again.

'Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald' wasn't as good as I was expecting

Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald Movie Poster - Double ...Story 

A few months after the events of the first film, dark wizard Gellert Grindelwald has escaped and Albus Dumbledore tasks Newt Scamander to track him to Paris and take him down before he wreaks havoc on the wizarding and non-wizarding worlds.

This is where the film is at it's weakest. Even though there is an established story it almost feels like filler. Almost like the first movie and the next one needed a connective tissue.

 My feelings on the story are paradoxical at best, I thought it was a solid story but it also felt like there was something missing. Even though it departs from the story of the first, the two movies don't really feel like they're in the same franchise, the two stories feel like they're on two different spectrums. That being said the plot twist at the end of the movie was unexpected and has me excited to see where this series goes.

Acting 

This movie has an ensemble cast, it stars Eddie Redmayne, Katherine Waterson, Ezra Miller, Zoe Kravitz, Dan Fogler, Alison Sudol, Jude Law and Johnny Depp.

Eddie Redmayne reprises his role as Newt Scamander and his character continues to be endearing and relatable. Newt is one of those characters that you can't help but love. He's not that different from the first film, and that's not a bad thing especially because there is so much else going on with this story.

Ezra Miller's performance is arguably the best one in the movie, Credence is a character you immediately gravitate towards and feel slightly protective over. There's definitely growth when you compare his character in the first film and this one. Ezra Miller is able to take Credence and give him layers. You can see that he's a volatile person whose behaviour could go in either direction.

Jude Law plays Albus Dumbledore and probably has the hardest job in the movie. He has to step into a pre-determined character and make it his own, while still being recognisable. And he does a great job. Michael Gambon's Dumbledore is more playful and laid back and you definitely see shades of that in Jude Law's performance. Even though he plays an important role in the plot we don't see much of him and I wish we did. (Even though we have a narrative reason, a girl can dream)

Zoe Kravitz plays Leta Lestrange, one of the most complex characters in the movie. You can see why she's made some of the decisions she's made. Her relationship with Newt is complex and makes for an interesting dynamic.

Before I talk about his acting, I have to mention the casting controversy. Whether or not the domestic violence allegations are true, it hung over this film for a while especially after Johnny Depp's casting was announced. It's something that people had every reason to be upset about. I had reservations about Johny Depp's casting (although that had nothing to do with his casting. That had more to do with the fact that his last few performances in the last few years have been unsatisfactory.)

That being said, his performance in this film isn't bad. Grindelwald is a good antagonist, especially when you look at the themes in this film. However, his screen presence wasn't very captivating. He's not someone you fear when you see him and he's not the kind of character that you can't help but watch. While I was watching the film I thought "There are definitely Heath Ledger Joker vibes". Grindelwald on paper is the kind of villain that you support because you believe in and understand what he's saying, and you do get glimpses of that in the film. Overall his performance is fine, it doesn't stand out that much, but I'm excited to see what else the filmmakers do with the characters because they are definitely on the right track.

Kathrine Waterson, Dan Fogler and Alison Sudol all do a pretty good job in this movie. Their performances in this movie are reminiscent of their performances in the first one. However, Queenie's character is taken in an interesting direction.

Writing/Direction

J.K. Rowling is the credited writer and it makes so much sense, she knows everything about these characters and this world. She's also had a pretty seamless transition into screenwriting. (much like Gillian Fylnn) Apart from my issues with the story, the writing in this movie never feels sloppy or forced. The dialogue flowed organically between the characters and they never did anything that would appear to be out of character. Not every character is fleshed out and well rounded, some of them do appear to lack true motivations. There are also a few things left unexplained that could have been developed further, like character relationships. It would have been nice to know how certain characters got to where they are in the film.

The tone of the movie does vary from scene to scene which could be jarring, but it doesn't change very frequently and when there are lighter and more comedic scenes they fit in with the established characters, so it doesn't feel out of place. However, there is a scene that feels out place due to where it takes place. Granted that scene needed to happen given how the story was constructed but it slowed down the pace a little.

David Yates is the perfect person to direct this film, this is the 5th film he's directed in the Wizarding World franchise and he has a firm grasp of how to direct movies like this. There's a good balance between the fantasy elements and dramatic moments. The direction in this film is good. David Yates knew where he wanted to story to go and we get there at the end. Even though the tone varies the movie has good pacing, I never felt bored and I was never taken out of the film. I do wish it was a few minutes longer. The movies runs at 134 minutes and an extra 10-15 minutes could have fleshed out the story more.

CGI/Set Design 

From an aesthetic standpoint, this is one of the best movies of the year. Every single establishing shot looks stunning and sets the tone for the scene you're about to watch. Philippe Rousselot, the cinematographer really captured each location and gave each place a distinct look and feel.

CGI is a very important factor for a movie like this and the special effects companies did a fantastic job. Fantastic Beasts has some of the best CGI I've seen this year, it's enchanting and pulls you into the movie. At no moment did I  think "that looks fake". It all looks absolutely stunning.

Score/Soundtrack 

The score is heavenly and is easily one of  James Newton Howard's best. This is one of those instances where the score is a character and a pretty prominent one. Almost every scene is accompanied by a piece of music that's either haunting, triumphant, introspective or curious. The score manages to reflect the mood of the movie and the characters. It's one of those scores that stuck with me and made me seek it out once the film ended. I'm listening to it as I'm writing this blog post and I see myself listening to it in the future.

Overall Thoughts

I would call this a story-driven movie with character-driven moments. Without the major plot points, this movie can't happen. Like I stated earlier, this film almost feels like filler and a bridge between this first film and the next one, bearing in mind where this franchise started and where it could be going feeling like this is inevitable. The major players needed to be set up and I'm hoping the next movie fulls an Infinity War and drops us right into the action.

 There are also a lot subtle of homages to the Harry Potter movies which is bound to make any Potterhead happy. My friend Alex loved them. As a casual Harry Potter fan, I thought they were pretty cool.

I wouldn't say this suffers from sequelitis because it feels so different from the first movie. I would recommend watching the first movie before you watch this one because there are callbacks and references that will be very confusing if you didn't know what went on the in the first one.

Overall I enjoyed this film and I look forward to seeing what the sequels have in store because the franchise appears to be moving in an interesting direction.

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