The Crimes of Grindelwald

I liked Fantastic Beasts. As far as shameless cash grabs go, Beasts was an enjoyable, clunky romp. It introduced a magic America, something us Americans love to see. It had history, loads of new lore, and some decent comedy, mostly from the character Jacob.

So when I say that The Crimes of Grindelwald is a piece of calcified dog shit, don’t think I’m a hater. It’s that bad. I really thought this series had potential. Instead it has the worst designed story of any Harry Potter film.

Grindelwald has escaped – as we knew he would. And he’s rallying supporters in Paris. Because that’s where Credence, the Obscura from the first film, has fled, ostensibly to find out the origins of his birth. Albus Dumbledore (a quite dashing Jude Law) is sending Newt again to deal with the problem because he has some sort of blood pact with Grindelwald. If you read Harry Potter you know this backstory, if you’ve never seen anything before, you might be a bit confused.

This next bit will be full of spoilers so be warned. Grindelwald suffers from overbloating. Here’s an example: Nagini, the snake that Voldemort had, is a literal woman in this film. And she is friends with Credence. And she does nothing. She serves no purpose and ends up being on the “good” side. Why? What? No.

It’s details like this, which distract from an incredibly complex story, that irk the viewer’s understanding. Because when you’re trying to wrap your head around a large plot that’s given in huge exposition speeches, you don’t have time to wonder about this strange Sudanese man trying to murder Credence for revenge. Or why Jacob is even involved in this film at all. Or why a film over two hours long has time to have a side character working for Newt who desperately wants him to take off his shirt. Grindelwald is almost an afterthought and he’s literally in the title of the movie.

Maybe in an 800 page book would this be acceptable. But we don’t have time to watch Leta Lestrange’s childhood. I can’t imagine how long this script must have been because the editing is atrocious. I’ll take that back. I’m sure the editor did an amazing job. Because they had to cut down what was clearly a four hour movie in something digestible. Quick cuts to more exposition, characters appearing and disappearing in scenes, terrible, terrible character shots and framing for storytelling – it’s clear that the original cut of the film was a mess. Because the final cut is still a mess.

I expect a little more from David Yates, who has directed the most Harry Potter films by far. Don’t see this movie. And if you do, play on your phone the whole time. I don’t expect the final one to be any better after the garbage set up by this one.

0 out of 4 stars

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