Weekender Bahrain, Thursday, February 20 2020

Fantastic Beasts & How to Avoid Them

admin 27-Nov-2018

Fantastic Beasts & How to Avoid Them
A review of Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald by Ahmed Zayani 

Who doesn’t love the Harry Potter franchise? From his debut in 2997, The Boy Who Lived managed to captivate the masses with his tales of wizardry and defiance against evil. As a result, the series managed to produce seven books, two theme park lands, a Broadway show of questionable quality, and a juggernaut of a film franchise that consisted of eight films and managed to take in over six billion dollars in the box office. Not bad for a series that originated from a box that was rejected by sixteen different publishers. This success has not only led other studios to seek out their own young adult franchises to jump on the bandwagon with but also made Warner Bros realize that there was more money to be milked from this franchise and as a result green lit a spin off prequel series; Fantastic Beasts & Where to Find Them. The first of five films was released in 2016 and while it made over 800 Million dollars globally it wasn’t as endeared as the original series by fans and critics alike. Still, with box office receipts to that effect, the gravy train was moving ahead and fans had hoped for the best. 

Directed by David Yates (who had previously directed the last four instalments of the Harry Potter franchise) Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald follows Newt Scmander (played by Eddie Redmayne) who is tasked by Hogwarts Professor Albus Dumbledore (played this time around by Jude Law) to seek out and retrieve an obscurus by the name of Creedence (played by Ezra Miller) who is also being sought out by the titular dark wizard Gellert Grindelwald (played by Johnny Depp) in his plot to undermine the muggle population of the world. I had high hopes for this film being going in. Not only was I excited by the inclusion of Depp into the mix who I consider to be a phenomenal actor but the narrative seemed to move closer in tone as well as in location to the original series. Imagine my dismay when the lights in the theatre came back on and I walked out trying to come to terms with the fact that I have just witnessed the worst entry into the Wizarding World franchise yet.

Despite the film running just a bit over two hours, I honestly struggled with it; I actually struggled to keep my eyes open throughout the whole affair. The biggest problem with this film is the script. JK Rowling might be a fantastic novelist but she failed horribly writing the screenplay here. The film was bogged down by an over bloated narrative that somehow was both overly complicated and low stakes at the same time. The film included way too many characters and plot threads that didn’t amount to anything beyond setting up future sequels or serving as unnecessary fan service, the same complaints that doomed Sony’s Amazing Spider-Man franchise. Left to her own whims, Rowling has somehow managed to butcher the very franchise she created and is further proof that even the best writers may not be able to translate that to a script, as was the case with Stephen King. Another problem with this film was the editing. To say that it was a mess would be putting it lightly as The Crimes of Grindelwald came off as choppy and amateurish. We were haphazardly thrown from one scene to another and others were cut in a way to imply one thing but we were not given neither the proper introduction nor the resolution for it to make sense. On top of that, the film suffered in terms of the leads. Eddie Redmayne is a fine actor but he is no replacement for Daniel Radcliffe. His character of Newt does have his charm, but that does not make him a compelling protagonist to anchor a five film franchise on. Worst yet was the performance of Katherine Waterston as Tina Goldstein. To say that I hated this performance would be a gross understatement. Not only during this film’s run did I feel any emotion towards this character or any interest or care emoting from the actress playing her. In my opinion, this is the worst female performance of this year and one that is so bad that it is a slight not only to this film but the Wizarding World Series as a whole.

That being said, the film did have its high spots. Both Johnny Depp and Jude Law were brilliant in their roles, so much so that I had hoped the film would’ve only revolves around their characters. Zoe Kravitz was a wonderful addition to the series & the more of Dan Fogler we get the happier I am. The effects were also top notch and the direction by David Yates show why the man has become a legacy for these franchises. Alas, all that couldn’t save The Crimes of Grindelwald from being the dredge of a film that it is. I am hoping that future sequels will redeem the series but for not I’m not holding my breath. 

The movie is currently being played in all leading cinema houses in Bahrain, including Mukta A2 Cinemas, which held an exciting premiere for it last week( see page 6) 

Verdict: 5.5/10 

For more cinematic intel, follow Ahmed on Instagram: @theahmedzayani 

The Five: Favourite Harry Potter Films

  • Goblet of Fire
  • Prisoner of Azkaban
  • Deathly Hallows part 2
  • Order of the Phoenix
  • Chamber of Secrets