The first reviews for the second flick in the Fantastic Beasts franchise are in and the general consensus is that it’s more muggle than magic, unfortunately.
The biggest criticisms of the film include its reliance on smoke and mirrors in the form of CGI to distract from what’s been widely described as an underwhelming and complicated script.
A major redeeming factor is the film’s star-studded cast including Eddie Redmayne as Newt Scamander, Jude Law as young Dumbledore, Ezra Miller as Credence, Zoe Kravitz as Leta Lestrange, and Dan Fogler as Jacob Kowalski but even that wasn’t enough to bolster its credibility, it seems.
Anyway, here’s what the critics have said:
Variety’s Andrew Barker called it “the noisiest, most rhythmless, and least coherent entry in the Wizarding World saga since Alfonso Cuarón first gave the franchise its sea legs in 2004.”
He criticised the “confusing jumble of new characters and eye-crossing marginalia. Most of the surface pleasures of filmic Potterdom (the chiaroscuro tones, the overqualified character actors, the superb costuming, James Newton Howard’s warmly enveloping score) have survived intact, but real magic is in short supply.”
Mashable’s Angie Han took issue with the complexity of having too many characters with their own individual interweaving storylines.
“There are something like a dozen major characters and half a dozen storylines in ‘Crimes of Grindelwald.’ In addition, there are subplots within subplots, supporting characters with their own supporting characters, Easter eggs butting up against other Easter eggs, and secrets stacked on top of secrets, until the whole precarious pile comes tumbling down in a chaotic third act.”
The Los Angeles Times’ Justin Chang went IN on the film, calling it “an excruciating bore just barely enlivened by stray glimpses of Hogwarts, a flicker of gay romance and a menagerie of computer-generated creepy-crawlies, ‘Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald’ is enough to make J.K. Rowling fans weep in frustration, provided they can even keep their eyes open.”
The Guardian’s Peter Bradshaw gave a lukewarm review, praising its entertainment value but deducting points for the plot.
“This ‘Fantastic Beasts’ film is as watchable and entertaining as expected and it’s an attractive Christmas event, but some of the wonder, novelty and sheer narrative rush of the first film has been mislaid in favour of a more diffuse plot focus, spread out among a bigger ensemble cast.”
USA Today’s Brian Truitt took a different stance on the film, however, praising it for its shoutouts to previous films.
“[‘The Crimes of Grindelwald’ is] a darker and bolder film that intertwines different eras of the ‘Potter’ mythology and delivers a more relevant cinematic villain than that malevolent snake face, Voldemort. Old-school Potterheads will rejoice, though fans of the charmingly quirky group of heroes from the first “Beasts” may lament their do-gooders getting lost in a growing magical landscape.”
IndieWire’s Kate Erbland was a fan of the ending which included a “massive battle between the forces of good and evil — a Rowling staple if there ever was one — that tears apart some key relationships, establishes others, and sets the stage for more drama and trauma to come.”
Adding, “As impressive as the final showdown is (it’s easily one of the most impressive setpieces in this fledgling franchise) and as shocking as the film’s closing revelations are (yes, they really are), this magic needs a spell of its own.”
TimeOut’s Olly Richards praised the “callbacks to the Potter universe” and its “bags of charm and a warm familiarity” but took issue with “too many characters and too much plot are weighing this beast down.”
So far the movie holds a 53% rating from critics on Rotten Tomatoes which is a fair drop from the first flick which boasts 73% to date.
As always though, film critic reviews aren’t necessarily going to mirror public opinion and Harry Potter stans will at least enjoy all the exciting Easter Eggs and nods to wizarding lore.
Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald hits cinemas on Thursday 15th November.
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