Fantastic Beasts 2 Review from a Harry Potter Novice

dumbledore, newt scamander, and grindelwald go head to head
A sort of love triangle

I’m not a Harry Potter fan. Don’t get me wrong; I like the stories. I think they are rich and compelling. But I’ve never read the books — it’s on the list — and I personally wouldn’t bother seeing any of the movies on opening weekend if it wasn’t my job.

I’m only setting the stage for where this review is coming from, because a movie review, or any review for that matter, isn’t about the thing being reviewed, it’s about the relationship between the writer and the object of the critique. If you share something in common with the reviewer, then perhaps you’ll share a similar relationship with the object of comment.

What I liked
Grindelwald is a great villain. He’s a freedom fighter. Not out for personal aggrandizement, at least not yet, but for the betterment of all. He’s only a villain because the Ministry — the centralized power — says he is. Honestly, if I were a wizard listening to him speak, I’d be on his side too. We’ll maybe not on his side, but definitely opposed to the Ministry.

JK Rowling consistently projects an air of self importance on the Ministry, who ends up as an obstacle to the heroes and is always lead by a bunch of incompetent sycophants. If she consciously writes that as a reflection of her own government, then I wonder what she must think of the US government…

OMG, I just realized: Trump is Dolores Umbridge. Sadly, the world makes a little more sense.

Rowling weaves a rich tapestry of characters and conflict over a framework of a masterfully created fantasy world. It’s not flawless, but so nearly so, that I’d feel it next to sacrilege to mention any trivial shortcomings. Let’s just say no one alive does it better. (Something I wouldn’t have been able to say just last week. #StanLeeRIP)

What I didn’t like
There are a LOT of characters and it’s hard to keep everyone, along with their relationships, straight. But it doesn’t help at all when so many lines are squashed under background noise or run over by music. Did the director/editors not listen to the dialog? Maybe they didn’t notice how unintelligible so many lines were because they were privy to the script, and just mentally filled in the auditory blanks. I was in a theater with state of the art Dolby sound and at least half a dozen times I had to wonder what on Earth a character said.

I really wish I had rewatched the first Fantastic Beasts before seeing The Crimes of Grindelwald because I spent most of the movie lost trying to remember what exactly was going on in the character relationships: wait, she likes him, and he likes her, but something happened — I can’t remember what, and why are those two characters looking at each other like that? Is there something going on between them that… oh, right, now I remember… wait, no that was the other girl who… Screw it. I give up. Just show some more fantastic beasts.

So yeah, warm up for CoG by rewatching the first FB.

Creator of RunPee. Aspiring author.

3 Replies to “Fantastic Beasts 2 Review from a Harry Potter Novice”

  1. I think this is very insightful. Umbridge as Trump? HA, too too true.

    Villainwise, I agree Grindelwald is somehow the only one deserving a bit of sympathy. (Although I still feel the role is miscast with Mr. Depp, and not bc of his public image – he just doesn’t look right, and is missing the charm of the character – he is supposed to be a bit impish, and less puffy.)

    Anyway, if I had to have tea with the bad guys, I’d take Grindlewald and Voldemort over Dolores Umbridge.

    I also agree about the Ministry. They seem a bit like Big Brother, and i’m sure this is intentional. Rowling seems to be telling us that governments are officious, incompetent, and obstructionist, easily susceptible to greed and corruption.

    As for seeing the first FB film, I agree that would have been helpful. This prequel/sequel has a ton of new characters, and to keep up with old and new isn’t very easy. It’s not as simple a structure as in the Harry Potter films with essentially three characters.

  2. I really enjoyed the film, but I did feel the plot was all over the place. Kinda seemed like they were always at the right place at the right time too. I did however, enjoy the fan service and the theatricals. Grinderwald is more compelling the Voldemort, I feel.

  3. I appreciated some of the fan service — meeting Nicholas Flamel was a standout, and I giggled my butt off when he jogged across the room in little mincing steps. He’s a delight. And we saw the Stone again, which — cool.

    Voldemort is actually pretty boring when you think about it. Ooo, he is EVULS! Because, EVULS! Bwahaha!

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