“Crimes of Grindelwald feels half-assed on every level, from the character motivations to the world-building. There’s nothing specific or special about this version of Paris; you’ll find a more magical portrayal of the city on any 99-cent postcard. Our returning heroes feel less familiar than they did when they were introduced in the last film, thanks to a rash of baffling decisions.”
Germain Lussier at io9 was okay with the first film’s lack of focus, but found that despite some great elements that same problem was too big to overcome this time.
“There’s a moment near the end of Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald when I realized the scene I was watching could have been the second one in the movie. Instead, it was near the end, climactic and important. Yet it took so long to get here and everything that happened prior was so superfluous to the events unfolding, it dawned on me that the latest film in J.K. Rowlingâ€™s Wizarding World simply wasnâ€™t up to par.”
IndieWire‘s Kate Erbland echoed a frequent criticism that the movie had too many characters and subplots to ever explore any of those stories in a satisfying way.
“Mostly, The Crimes of Grindelwald is hampered by the unwieldy meshing together of disparate plots that could service their own films (some of them surely better than others). At the center (when heâ€™s not been shunted aside by all those competing narratives), thereâ€™s ostensible franchise star Eddie Redmayne as nervous magizoologist Newt Scamander. Newtâ€™s ditzy charm grounded the first film; and when heâ€™s allowed to lead this second story, itâ€™s as whimsical and good-hearted as any in the franchise.”
At Birth.Movies.Death. Russ Fischer blames J.K. Rowling’s sprawling script for trying to cram too much into a single movie.
“All the problems with repeated story concepts and underdeveloped characters are rooted in the screenwriting, which Rowling now tackles herself. The Harry Potter films were good, sometimes great examples of condensing sprawling books into films that were dense but still alive. Whatever Rowlingâ€™s process is here, the result isnâ€™t the same. Sheâ€™s introducing just as many characters and concepts as in her novels, with far less space to develop them.”
Even people who like the film will get a laugh out of the The L.A. Times’ headline for Justin Chang’s ennui-filled review: “Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwaldâ€™ is one great big Dumble-snore”
“An excruciating bore just barely enlivened by stray glimpses of Hogwarts, a flicker of gay romance and a menagerie of computer-generated creepy-crawlies, â€œFantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwaldâ€ is enough to make J.K. Rowling fans weep in frustration, provided they can even keep their eyes open. Presumably Rowling, her fellow producers and the top brass at Warner Bros. were thinking about those fans â€” meaning their capacity for pleasure and enchantment, not just their pocketbooks â€” when they decided to launch a series of prequels to their justly celebrated Harry Potter cycle.”
Kate Gardner at The Mary Sue makes the other reviews look downright glowing in comparison, because she went in with low expectations and still came out massively disappointed.
“Itâ€™s truly remarkable when the things I was angriest about going into Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald (Dumbledoreâ€™s vague sexuality, the Nagini reveal, Johnny Deppâ€™s casting) wound up not being the things I was angriest about after seeing it.Thatâ€™s not to say that Iâ€™m not still furious about those things; the film either proved my fears were correct or managed to fall below my already grim expectations, but it went even further down from there, functioning as a reverse Mirror of Erised, showing me only things I desperately did not want, including some things I didnâ€™t even know to dread.”
Not every critic was so down on the movie though. Jake Coyle from the Associated Press found more to enjoy from the film’s mixed bag.
“Rowlingâ€™s only source material going into the â€œFantastic Beastsâ€ films was a slender 2001 book in the guise of a Hogwarts textbook. But she has, with her mighty wand, summoned an impressively vast if convoluted world, one thatâ€™s never timid in exploring the darkness beneath its enchanting exterior. And, with Yates again at the helm, â€œThe Crimes of Grindelwaldâ€ is often dazzling, occasionally wondrous and always atmospheric. But is also a bit of a mess. Even magic bags can be overweight.”
And Kimberley Jones of the Austin Chronicle found it to be a fantastic beginning to the war that should dominate the rest of the franchise, one that will make Harry Potter fans very happy.
“Itâ€™s the opening salvo in a battle for wizardsâ€™ hearts and minds, one that will presumably dominate the rest of the series. On the strength of this sequel â€“ a dense yet deft return to the high standards Yates set with the Potter films â€“ count this Muggleâ€™s heart and mind all in.”
Terrible or great? The trailer for the film did say everyone would have to pick sides.Are you worried about the film after seeing these reviews, or are yous till hopeful it will capture the magic of Harry Potter? Tell us why in the comments below.
Images: Warner Bros.