“Crimes of Grindelwald” was a fantastic failure

By Audrey Chang, Staff Writer

Warning: Contains SPOILERS for “Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald”

There was no clapping when the credits rolled. But, for good reason. “Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald, released on Friday, November 16, left me lost in the complexity of the plot, confused with the abundance of characters and unsatisfied with its ending. This movie is not only directed by David Yates, but also marks J.K. Rowling’s debut as a screenwriter. The second film in the “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” series is yet another expansion of the “Harry Potter” franchise. Despite the success of Rowling’s seven book “Harry Potter” series, her skillful writing did not translate in her debut. This is shown through a crammed, discontinuous and confusing film. Stuffed chalk full of plot twists and backstories, this film poses far too large a project for Rowling’s first screenplay, and her inexperience in screenwriting is evident onscreen.

At the end of the first film, the main protagonist Credence Barebone (Ezra Miller) escapes from his foster family in 1926 New York. The second film is set in 1927 Paris and expands on Credence’s journey to find his past and the main antagonist, Gellert Grindelwald’s, rise to power. Young Albus Dumbledore (Jude Law) asks his former student Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne) to thwart Grindelwald’s plans of creating a wizard-ruled world after admitting he cannot fight Grindelwald himself.

Rowling wrote the screenplay as if it were a novel, creating a myriad of issues in this film. This was an unfit approach since movies convey information more concisely than books in order to keep the audience engaged. In a movie, Rowling doesn’t have the time to unfold the plot like she usually does in a novel. Rowling has no previous experience in writing scripts, let alone novel adaptations. Her inexperience left an excess of undeveloped and unnecessary characters in addition to an overly complicated plot line.

The movie’s superfluous introduction of new characters did not drive the plot, and the new additions served only to fill plot holes or entertain. Kelpie, a shapeshifting water demon, showcased amazing CGI work in the trailer yet only made one appearance. The director used characters such as Kelpie to lure the audience into watching the movie, when in reality these characters had little to no screen time. For instance, Nagini, a snake-woman, has little dialogue and is mainly seen silently accompanying Credence. Her inclusion in the movie was to appeal to Harry Potter fans by proving that Voldemort’s pet snake was once a human woman. These new characters would be more suited for a book setting, where the author has ample time for character development and dialogue. If Rowling had allowed more screen time for fewer characters, the audience would have had the chance to connect in a more emotional way with these characters. Rowling doesn’t seem to understand this concept and blindly approaches screenwriting as she does book-writing, resulting in a movie crammed with unfamiliar, shallow characters.

The characters didn’t take action or undergo struggle to deserve their happy ending, leaving the audience unsatisfied. During the final fight scene in the cemetery, Newt’s small creature escapes out of his suitcase to retrieve Grindelwald’s dropped blood pact. However, the first film established that Newt’s suitcase constrained creatures, meaning that they could not escape once they entered. The convenience and efficiency of the niffler’s actions make the ending unsatisfying because Newt didn’t do much to cause it. Instead of following through with character development and the current direction of the plot, Rowling took the easy way out and quickly brought the movie to a close with a miraculous resolution by chance.

For “Harry Potter” fans and non-“Harry Potter” fans alike, this film is only worth watching to find out the backstories of familiar “Harry Potter” characters and set the stage for the next three “Fantastic Beasts” movies. The overwhelming amount of backstories and ongoing plots were not enough for the limited screen time, resulting in a cramped film full of undeveloped characters and a rushed ending. In the end, the numerous insignificant characters and subplots and unsatisfying ending make “Fantastic Beasts and the Crimes of Grindelwald” a poor addition to the Wizarding World.