WARNING! This review is SPOILERTASTIC, if you haven’t seen Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald and still want to
though why the hell do you
then don’t read this.
First, I will list the good things in this movie – Leta Lestrange, in some scenes. The chemistry between Newt and Tina, in some scenes. The cat toy for the giant cat demon. Okay, done.
I am so disappointed in this film, and I know, that makes me a bit of a chump, because it’s a mega-franchise, and they all eventually turn into grey slurry. But I was. I genuinely loved Fantastic Beasts 1, possibly more than any of the other Harry Potter films, because it was written for a screen and it felt like it. Since I am not even sure how to make this funny, I am leaving this review in the hands of Bastard McKosh with interjections from McHULK. This just isn’t fun. I am out.
Oh dear fucking me, this is going to be fun. I haven’t had a movie fail on so many levels since Beauty and the Beast: The Enchanted Christmas. I saw it a week ago, in a crowded overheated cinema full of people who seemed to share my sentiments, and my infuriation is still as fresh as ever. This film really has it all – half-woke ideas about fascism, abusive relationships, faaaaamily above all else, a queer-coded villain, bad casting choices
WHY JOHNNY DEPP
plot holes you could steer The Flying Dutchman through, retcons, bad writing and wasted opportunities.
WHY CLARENCE ALIVE
WHY ROWLING OBSESSIVE-COMPULSIVE RETCON
A word on that, actually – thanks McHULK – at some point, JK, you just have to own it, and move on, saying that you know more now, you have achieved a more nuanced understanding of social dynamics – though you clearly have not – and that you will do better with your next project. You hear that, Rowling? NEXT PROJECT.
Let us talk about those casting decisions which angered the internet. Johnny Depp is not only a terrible choice for extra-diegetic reasons but also within the story. He’s too well known, his makeup and costume design are fucking awful, and the performance is kind of baffling in its blandness. He’s not really threatening because he doesn’t really seem human. Now, I know the same was true for Voldemort – although frankly Ralph Fiennes did a really great job with that – but that was in the Harry Potter series, which was a children’s story. Children’s stories can afford to have more simplistic villains, and besides, that series was filled with characters who were ambiguous, making the whole good/evil issue more of a sliding scale than a dichotomy. In this, the second part of horrifyingly a five-part series, we get tired stereotypes, stock characters and no character growth. Why is Grindelwald
MAKE UP MIND ON PRONOUNCIATION
such a caricature? This isn’t a villain worthy of an adult story.
It is especially galling that a great opportunity to establish Grindelwald’s relationship with Dumbledore is just completely missed. We have Dumbledore talking about how he and Grindelwald were “closer than brothers” and we get a scene of Dumbledore looking sadly into the mirror of Erised (still hate that name) and seeing himself and Grindelwald clasping hands…to make an Unbreakable Vow. Except this one is with jewellery, so we can start another Magical Item™ story, hoo-fucking-ray, just what this overblown mess needs, a fetch quest (Edit: I know we don’t know for sure it’s an Unbreakable Vow. I am using hyperbole).
After all the talk of Dumbledore and Grindelwald’s spicy young love affair, causing the Fanfiction community to explode at the seams when it was made canon, this is fucking weaksauce. You might try and argue that this is not appropriate for children, and I will remind you that this film features a man whose tongue was cut out – we might not see it, but it is explicitly mentioned – and someone getting a sewer parasite extracted from his eyeball, which we do see. There are also heavy (handed) themes of racism and two counts of child death.
If you don’t want gay wizards, then don’t have gay wizards, but don’t pretend it’s a major theme. You can’t eat gay wizard cake if you don’t have it, Rowling, is what I am saying.
It’s not the 90s anymore, man, act like it.
This also incidentally applies to that little stunt you pulled with Nagini. The internet was right about that too. There is nothing wrong with casting an Asian woman to play your weird snake lady
WHY RETCON WHY POOR NEVILLE HE NICE BOY
but if she is the only Asian character in your whole cast of thousands, it looks a bit fucking weird, you know?
WHY MCGONAGALL ALSO WAS SHE NOT BORN IN 1935 WHY SHE ADULT TEACHER IN 1920s WHY
And speaking of characters. Oh, my god, what is the point of any of them. Newt does nothing of interest or importance, which isn’t unusual in this film, but noteworthy because he is the goddamn title character. He runs around, playing at CSI Harry Potter, petting the occasional creature and having no effect on the story whatsoever. I had more impact at my last LARP, playing third soldier from the left. Also, did we miss the part where he is in love with Tina suddenly? Or did you just really need some weak motivation for him to go from LondonParis to ParisLondon?
WHY PARIS AND LONDON SO SIMILAR. NEW YORK SO BEAUTIFUL IN FIRST MOVIE. McHULK WAS LOOKING FORWARD TO 1920s PARIS. McHULK CANNOT TELL DIFFERENCE BETWEEN PARIS AND LONDON. McHULK WONDERS IF THE FACT THAT THIS FILM IS AMERICAN PLAYED A ROLE IN BEING ABLE TO TELL THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN CAPITALS. BUT JK ROWLING BRITISH AND HAS CREATIVE CONTROL. WHY LONDON SO UGLY
WHY PARIS JUST A TRAIN AND A ROOM AND A CAR AND A ROOM AND A ROOM AND A ROOM AND IT’S A LOT LESS FUN THAN IT WAS IN 1964
The only interesting character we get is Leta Lestrange – we get to know her and her complex background, only to have her vaporised for no good goddamn reason at the end. What was the point of all this backstory and backflashes and holy shit did she just get fridged did we just see a female character get fridged in a 2018 movie which is touted as feminist.
There are many more things I could mention, like
- the stupid cheap fat jokes at Jacob’s expense, which I already hated in the first movie and were exacerbated in movie two,
- the fact that I never realised that making kids face Bogarts in front of all their classmates – thus letting them see everyone’s deepest fears – is essentially structuralised bullying,
- the stupid goddamn escape scene, or
- the fact that I don’t know what Grindelwald’s crimes are, even though I have been wondering about it for days. All I can come up with is a bit of murder and that hairdo.
But a lot of this is covered in the other 600+ thinkpieces on this film, and frankly, regular McKosh isn’t the only one who is depressed by this. But there is one thing I didn’t see any comment on, and that was the fact that Jacob and Queenie’s relationship is really fucking questionable, and by that, I mean abusive. So let’s talk about that.
This relationship was sort of adorable in the first movie, but now – she turns up out of nowhere with a glamoured Jacob talking about marriage
WHY RETCON ON OBLIVIATE WHY SO STUPID
And when he is de-glamoured by Newt, which Queenie reluctantly permits, he seems pretty well-adjusted about it, and by that I mean he does not react like any healthy human would to being under what is essentially magical date rape drugs for…I can’t remember if it’s weeks or months, and it actually doesn’t matter how long.
Since Queenie later joins the wizard Nazis, one could interpret this to mean she is on a dark path, so her treatment of Jacob could be read as a warning sign. But the movie clearly wants us to think this is romantic. All the cues – the music, the framing of the scene, the fact that Jacob then goes looking for her to apologise – say that this is supposed to be a relationship that the viewer should care about.
The thing that really got me was the conversation that Jacob has with Newt about Queenie after she leaves. He literally says that her mindreading is sometimes invasive, but he still thinks he is lucky that someone like her is interested in someone like him. What the hell kind of message does that send, exactly. Jacob deserves better and so does everyone else.
THIS MOVIE HURTS US DO BETTER
Oh, and to add insult to this death by a thousand cuts, the 3D is so dark and murky I couldn’t make out half the action. It reminded me of Star Trek Into Darkness, and I never want to be reminded of Star Trek Into Darkness. I hope this series is nipped in this bud and makes space and money for some original thought.
While I am at it I also wish for affordable housing for everyone free healthcare a garden and a reasonably-sized dragon for my morning commute I hate the U-Bahn