Also watched Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald which is rubbish.
The first one wasn’t that great, but it was at least a mildly enjoyable popcorn ride. This one is a complete mess of a movie. Not only that, it manages to ruin one of the few things I liked about the first movie.
The plot makes little sense, but in particular it’s introduced in a really weird way. It’s almost like a Shaggy Dog Story in that it seems to be being made up as it goes along, introducing more and more new characters and then rushing to give them establishing flashback stories before throwing in a twist before giving them an ending.
Their endings being unsatisfying because they were only introduced 10 minutes ago and since then they haven’t done anything except have a flashback to try and explain who they are.
The series has a massive flaw in that the main character is just terrible. He’s your generic geeky shy bumbling young man (Frank Spencer?) but he’s also supposed to be the main action hero.
His defining trait seems to be the inability to look anyone in the eye, which is really off-putting. His other defining trait seems to be to not want to be involved in anything and that doesn’t really work well for the main hero of an action franchise.
The series tries to work around this by introducing loads of side characters who are all more interesting and dynamic than him, but because they’re side characters they can’t really take center stage or overshadow him, so they just pop in and out and do stuff.
The most obvious example of this is Dumbledore. The movie clearly wants to be about setting up a duel between Grindlewald and Dumbledore, but Dumbeldore isn’t the main character. He’s only in the movie for 5 minutes or so.
It’s like if the original Star Wars trilogy had followed Luke for 3 movies, all in the name of setting up a final duel between Vader and Mon Motha.
The other example is the end of this movie, which turns out to be about a character who wasn’t even in the first movie, was only briefly introduced in this movie, and whose backstory and plot was introduced in a rush of flashbacks and immediate twists.
Side characters from the first movie, such as Tina have very little to do in this movie and seem to be just there to show up.
The entire movie suffers from ‘prequelitis’ in that it keeps throwing in unnecessary fan-service references to the later movies that just seem jarring and make the world feel smaller and too filled with coincidence.
The ridiculous ‘twist’ ending is a good example of that, plus an example of the side-characters issue and the ‘not being about newt at all’ issue.
I’m rather surprised Rowling wrote this mess.
[edit for more complaining]
Oh, and the big finale ending (not the silly twist ending that follows) is such a huge anticlimax.
While it could actually be kinda clever and unexpected that Grindlewald uses his big rally to make the Aurors look bad, it’s rather anticlimactic because:
(a) Most of the bad guys just go away.
(a.1) I’m sure the rules on when/how wizards can disaparate are being made up on the fly,
(b) It turns out Grindlewald is so powerful that he can just be invulnerable and kill the entire force of Aurors with an unexciting blue cloud of smoke.
(b.1) Which begs the question of why he’s messing around in secret and trying to recruit people rather than just doing it all himself,
(b2) Which does the prequel thing of making half the stuff in the Harry Potter films look very underpowered
(c ) We don’t care about the Aurors, as we don’t really know any of them and they’ve been portrayed rather negatively up to now anyway.
(d) A static blue cloud that kills everyone doesn’t lead to any exciting battles or combat or escape scenes. It’s also totally one sided.
(e) The big ‘dramatic’ climax is about everyone except Newt. It’s about Leta (who we don’t know and don’t care about), and a little about Theseus (who has a dumb name and we don’t really know or care about very much) and about Queenie (who we do care about, but it makes no sense).
It’s about bloody Nicholas Flamel who randomly wandered in a few scenes earlier for a short comedy skit.
(f) It’s also about some big blue magic dragon or something that can apparently destroy an entire city, because apparently Grindelwald is powerful enough to do that without braking a sweat or even bothering to stay and watch.
(g) Grindlewald just kinda leaves at some point.