The 4 Biggest Problems With 'Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes Of Grindelwald'




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Ezra Miller at the premiere of the film 'Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald'. (Photo by Joel C Ryan / Invision / AP)

Spoilers ahead for 'Fantastic Beasts 2'

Prequels to beloved blockbusters are much more difficult to pull off than sequels; the magic and mystique of a galaxy far, far away and Middle-Earth faded a little after sitting through their bloated backstories. & nbsp;

Clean timelines become cluttered, new plot holes open up, and weak story is supplemented with fan service: "Remember those characters? Well, they're actually connected in a way you never knew, but for some reason, is never acknowledged later. Is not that cool? "

We're only two movies in, but so far, the Fantastic Beasts franchise is committing every prequel without imaginable, steadily draining the magic from the wizarding world.

Here are the four biggest problems with Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes Of Grindelwald:

There is no protagonist

Newt Scamander might be the face of the franchise, but he's certainly not the protagonist of this story – he's a random bystander with little reason to stick around, other than the fact the series started with him.

Credence is, in many ways, our new Harry Potter; an orphaned messiah, just waiting to implement his grand destiny. He's always presented as the biggest piece on the chessboard, fought over by the big players Grindelwald and Dumbledore. How he chooses to use his powers, which side he chooses to play for, is the most important decision in this story by a wide margin, much more so than whatever Newt does with his cutesy creatures.

He's our Luke Skywalker, our Frodo Baggins, the guy who will either turn to the dark side or embrace the light; the destiny of every individual in the wizarding world rests in his hands. So, why is he so incredibly uncompelling?

Well, it might be Ezra Miller's lack of facial expressions. Or it might be the fact that we have absolutely no idea who this person is, other than the fact his repressed powers are supposed to mirror the struggles of the closet homosexual.

That, and his constant identity crises make for a character always being told who he is, rather than showing the audience a glimpse of personality. It's very difficult to care about this character, especially because he's always competing with Newt for screen time.

There are too many characters

Speaking of closet homosexuals, what's the deal with Dumbledore? He was the best part of this movie, by far, and his predicament is so interesting. Imagine being in love with the leader of a fascist movement! That's a terrible thing to happen to anybody, and it would make for a great movie, one day. The next sequel, perhaps? Or the one after?

There are far too many characters scuttling around the screen here, and the ones who are granted the most screen time are the least consequential, and the least interesting. At heart, this is really the story of Dumbledore vs. Grindelwald, and their living pawn, Credence.

Everybody else is far less important, and should be regulated to the sidelines, especially because we barely know them. Avengers: Infinity War could justify putting so many characters on screen because we've been watching them grow for a decade; Harry Potter did much the same.

Two films in, the Fantastic Beasts Cast has expanded to Newt, Tina, Jacob, Queenie, Credence, Leta Lestrange, Theseus Scamander, Dumbledore, and Grindelwald. And Nagini, for some reason.

We do not have time for this. The characters do not have time for this – they've barely been given the chance to introduce themselves, which is why the decisions they make often come across as impulsive, even random (Queenie's sudden change-of-heart is the worst example of this).

The tone is all over the place

When this franchise started, it seemed to be a charming tale of an animal-obsessed introvert, and his slapstick shenanigans. Aww – he can not even make eye contact. What a cutie. But then, RACISM.

Wait, what? Suddenly, Newt Scamander, the guy who wrote the book on magical creatures, is sucked into a massive, all-consuming, rise-of-Hitler allegory. What the heck does that have to do with fantastic beasts?

We already went through this with Voldemort, remember? Why, J.K. Rowling, did you have to bring your thinly-veiled social commentary into this one? We went through it already, and it was good; this time, I just wanted to watch a well-dressed nerd chase animals around.

And there's still plenty of that, but it's mixed in with scenes featuring dead toddlers, a swapped baby, a drowning baby, fascist speeches, a puff of smoke that turns into the goddamn Holocaust, and a woman who will one day end up as a beheaded snake.

Pick a tone – we will all follow the story you choose. But you have to choose one.

The fascist metaphor is clumsy

I have a sneaking suspicion that the reason this franchise turned into "Fantastic Beasts and the Rise of Fascism" is because J.K. Rowling spends way too much time on Twitter, arguing with trolls over Trump and Brexit.

Whether or not this is true does not actually matter, because the subject has become so topical. People are being pushed into political extremism nowadays, so it's great to give the world a story that reflects that. Except, Fantastic Beasts does not do a very good job.

Grindelwald does not really act like a fascist leader; he's not a demagogue, or a seductive speaker. He just walks around blankly, killing people. There's no Mussolini / Hitler style rallies that rouse crowds of ordinary folk into bloodlust – just blank stares and weird eyes.

At one point, he cuddles a lizard and then suddenly throws it out of the window, in a scene that prompted loud laughter in my cinema. This guy that attracts followers? How?

The one speech he gave referenced real-life tragedy WWII and the Holocaust, and used those upcoming horrors to recruit wizards into fighting muggles. And for some reason, it worked. Even Queenie, the wizard who wants to marry a muggle, suddenly decides that joining a muggle-hate group is a great idea.

This could have been a very powerful moment, if she had been given a relatable reason for joining the ranks of a magical racist. Ordinary people do indeed get sucked into hateful ideologies, making Queenie's story one of the most interesting, potentially.

Her insanely controlling actions toward Jacob show that she's going down a dark road, but it's certainly not enough to justify joining Grindelwald's ranks.

Now, there's every chance that this franchise will turn around; there are still three movies left to go, and that's more than enough time to tell an amazing story. But I do not think Newt should be part of it anymore – he's just adding to the clutter.

After all, there's only so many times you can shoehorn a cryptozoologist into a race war.

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Ezra Miller at the premiere of the film 'Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald'. (Photo by Joel C Ryan / Invision / AP)

Spoilers ahead for 'Fantastic Beasts 2'

Prequels to beloved blockbusters are much more difficult to pull off than sequels; the magic and mystique of a galaxy far, far away and Middle-Earth faded a little after sitting through their bloated backstories.

Clean timelines become cluttered, new plot holes open up, and weak story is supplemented with fan service: "Remember those characters? Well, they're actually connected in a way you never knew, but for some reason, is never acknowledged later. Is not that cool? "

We're only two movies in, but so far, the Fantastic Beasts franchise is committing every prequel without imaginable, steadily draining the magic from the wizarding world.

Here are the four biggest problems with Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes Of Grindelwald:

There is no protagonist

Newt Scamander might be the face of the franchise, but he's certainly not the protagonist of this story – he's a random bystander with little reason to stick around, other than the fact the series started with him.

Credence is, in many ways, our new Harry Potter; an orphaned messiah, just waiting to implement his grand destiny. He's always presented as the biggest piece on the chessboard, fought over by the big players Grindelwald and Dumbledore. How he chooses to use his powers, which side he chooses to play for, is the most important decision in this story by a wide margin, much more so than whatever Newt does with his cutesy creatures.

He's our Luke Skywalker, our Frodo Baggins, the guy who will either turn to the dark side or embrace the light; the destiny of every individual in the wizarding world rests in his hands. So, why is he so incredibly uncompelling?

Well, it might be Ezra Miller's lack of facial expressions. Or it might be the fact that we have absolutely no idea who this person is, other than the fact his repressed powers are supposed to mirror the struggles of the closet homosexual.

That, and his constant identity crises make for a character always being told who he is, rather than showing the audience a glimpse of personality. It's very difficult to care about this character, especially because he's always competing with Newt for screen time.

There are too many characters

Speaking of closet homosexuals, what's the deal with Dumbledore? He was the best part of this movie, by far, and his predicament is so interesting. Imagine being in love with the leader of a fascist movement! That's a terrible thing to happen to anybody, and it would make for a great movie, one day. The next sequel, perhaps? Or the one after?

There are far too many characters scuttling around the screen here, and the ones who are granted the most screen time are the least consequential, and the least interesting. At heart, this is really the story of Dumbledore vs. Grindelwald, and their living pawn, Credence.

Everybody else is far less important, and should be regulated to the sidelines, especially because we barely know them. Avengers: Infinity War could justify putting so many characters on screen because we've been watching them grow for a decade; Harry Potter did much the same.

Two films in, the Fantastic Beasts Cast has expanded to Newt, Tina, Jacob, Queenie, Credence, Leta Lestrange, Theseus Scamander, Dumbledore, and Grindelwald. And Nagini, for some reason.

We do not have time for this. The characters do not have time for this – they've barely been given the chance to introduce themselves, which is why the decisions they make often come across as impulsive, even random (Queenie's sudden change-of-heart is the worst example of this).

The tone is all over the place

When this franchise started, it seemed to be a charming tale of an animal-obsessed introvert, and his slapstick shenanigans. Aww – he can not even make eye contact. What a cutie. But then, RACISM.

Wait, what? Suddenly, Newt Scamander, the guy who wrote the book on magical creatures, is sucked into a massive, all-consuming, rise-of-Hitler allegory. What the heck does that have to do with fantastic beasts?

We already went through this with Voldemort, remember? Why, J.K. Rowling, did you have to bring your thinly-veiled social commentary into this one? We went through it already, and it was good; this time, I just wanted to watch a well-dressed nerd chase animals around.

And there's still plenty of that, but it's mixed in with scenes featuring dead toddlers, a swapped baby, a drowning baby, fascist speeches, a puff of smoke that turns into the goddamn Holocaust, and a woman who will one day end up as a beheaded snake.

Pick a tone – we will all follow the story you choose. But you have to choose one.

The fascist metaphor is clumsy

I have a sneaking suspicion that the reason this franchise turned into "Fantastic Beasts and the Rise of Fascism" is because J.K. Rowling spends way too much time on Twitter, arguing with trolls over Trump and Brexit.

Whether or not this is true does not actually matter, because the subject has become so topical. People are being pushed into political extremism nowadays, so it's great to give the world a story that reflects that. Except, Fantastic Beasts does not do a very good job.

Grindelwald does not really act like a fascist leader; he's not a demagogue, or a seductive speaker. He just walks around blankly, killing people. There's no Mussolini / Hitler style rallies that rouse crowds of ordinary folk into bloodlust – just blank stares and weird eyes.

At one point, he cuddles a lizard and then suddenly throws it out of the window, in a scene that prompted loud laughter in my cinema. This guy that attracts followers? How?

The one speech he gave referenced real-life tragedy WWII and the Holocaust, and used those upcoming horrors to recruit wizards into fighting muggles. And for some reason, it worked. Even Queenie, the wizard who wants to marry a muggle, suddenly decides that joining a muggle-hate group is a great idea.

This could have been a very powerful moment, if she had been given a relatable reason for joining the ranks of a magical racist. Ordinary people do indeed get sucked into hateful ideologies, making Queenie's story one of the most interesting, potentially.

Her insanely controlling actions toward Jacob show that she's going down a dark road, but it's certainly not enough to justify joining Grindelwald's ranks.

Now, there's every chance that this franchise will turn around; there are still three movies left to go, and that's more than enough time to tell an amazing story. But I do not think Newt should be part of it anymore – he's just adding to the clutter.

After all, there's only so many times you can shoehorn a cryptozoologist into a race war.


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