There are no circumstances in which you should see this movie.
Seeing this movie myself felt masochistic, a kind of terrible thing you do yourself where no one has asked this of you, but you feel obliged to do anyway. Seeing bad movies, after all, is kinda my thing — I have seen Suicide Squad more times than the people who edited the film. Seeing this movie was a terrible idea, seeing it after drinking copiously and with friends was an act of self-care in the face of masochistic tendencies.
This is the worst movie I saw this week, even though later this week I saw a 9/11 indie rock musical called Clear Blue Tuesday. I would rather rewatch that movie than spend another moment thinking about Fantastic Beasts 2: The Crimes of Grindelwald. But I’ve seen it, and now I feel obliged to take a moment to write about it so that maybe you will not make the same mistakes I have made.
Here is a video I recorded of my initial reactions:
Fantastic Beasts 2: The Crimes of Grindlewald is the kind of movie where you learn about a drowned baby (who probably died in the sinking of the Titanic) who is not the drowned baby you think it is nor the rape-baby of a noted wizard supremacist family, but someone entirely different, in the span of under 10 minutes, delivered in an info dump while a bunch of folks stand around in a crypt that they have all appeared in simultaneously. It is the kind of movie where there is simultaneously nothing going on, and everything going on. It is a movie about the consequences of fate that is so burdened by deus ex machina that God should already have descended to point these characters towards their denouement.
There is nothing worthwhile in this movie, which feels as though it was directed by a man who had never seen a shot before (he has, he’s actually filmed four main Harry Potter films before and the first of the Fantastic Beasts series of spin-offs) and who films all of his performers so that you can only see a third of their face if he doesn’t allow the camera to just fuck off mid frame. I cannot overstate how poorly this film is shot — I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that midway through production all of their film was destroyed through a magnetic storm in the editors room and they had to reshoot the entire thing in a week in a back lot. It is tremendously terrible. It was a terrible surprise to find out that Rowling had written this info-dump of a movie, since it was also a movie that seemed deeply out of touch with its own canon. There are holes in canon big enough to drive the Knight Bus through.
I hate that I made that joke. I’m leaving it there.
This movie is a putrescent pile of garbage, which could not be saved by four ciders and a flavored drink given the named “butterbrew” but that ended up actually being a devils child of butterscotch flavoring, whiskey and hard cider and tasted strongly like a candle melted down and chilled. It is without redeeming qualities and that’s before you get into the moral quandary that is not only casting Johnny Depp in your movie but then featuring him extensively as though he were a large corpse-like middle finger towards the audience members that complained that seeing a noted domestic abuser in their franchise was like a gut punch.
There are roles in his past career in which Depp excels at — Nazi like baby murderer Grindelwald is shockingly not one of them. He carries with him the stage presence of a poorly taxidermied rat and someone possesses the self-same charisma. He is unwatchable on screen if you can somehow forget that he beat his ex-wife. Which is hard. Because it is a thing he did. But even if you somehow managed to disregard that, which again, is incredibly difficult, his performance is very, very bad. Depp is supposed to be playing the kind of character that draws men to him, who can make people go against their better instincts and join a revolution. But he can’t, because he’s basically a sleepy kind of malevolence in Fantastic Beasts 2 when he shows up at all. His best scenes are in the opening where you’re briefly teased with the idea that he has had his tongue removed and therefore will not be speaking, but this is a tease of the highest order as he immediately starts speaking.
The best parts of this movie are when it teases you with the type of movie it could’ve been — when Newt Scamander is playing with his animals, and you can see the type of man he is. But those moments are fleeting and in their own way cruel — because they show you the promise of a different film that never was, and instead leave in their tracks the grotesque, bloated grey-black bruise of a film that we ended up with.
You should not see this movie. I cannot believe that I allowed myself to see it.