“Crimes of Grindelwald”: Good Writer Does Not A Good Screenwriter Make

With “Crimes of Grindelwald” Rowling just gave up pretending there are ANY rules in the Wizarding World. Both the rules of magic (the wizards seem to have a whole lot of new tricks up their sleeves, like walking inside walls, that if they were available in the original books, it would have made everything easier or different; also, how the hell does apparition work? What’s its range?) and the rules of magical law (apparition again: how exactly is a travel ban enforced on a wizard? Plus, the Aurors seem to just up and fucking KILL everything that moves right away!)

But the biggest crime of “Crimes of Grindelwald” (I’m not getting into the problematic issues of mis- and non-representation that were deeply covered in other, more adequate sources) is that the plot is just a mess. So many intertwined stories that it’s easy to forget why these characters are even there (there is absolutely NO REASON for this movie to take place in Paris), unclear or conflicting goals that made me utterly confused (what was Yusuf Kama’s mission, and why?), terrible plot twists (the final scene is just Star Wars Prequels level of painful) delivered in horrible info dumps (the Leta’s story had potential to be truly moving if it was the focus of the movie instead of a five minute flashback out of nowhere) and some of the weakest character motivations ever (it’s great to see Jacob again but what did they do to poor Queenie?) – this is something you could expect from a Harry Potter book if it was distilled to the dialogue only (or a screenplay). But the books work because of Rowlings frankly charming style. Writing for the screen (or stage, but I’ll leave that for the long overdue “Cursed Child” play review) is not her strong suit.

The movie is also shot terribly. Aside from some quite pretty effects (the blue and yellow fire looked nice) it was hard to watch. The opening action sequence was clearly shot to make the audience in 3D screenings duck and cover, but I was glad to have chosen a 2D one, as I couldn’t see anything anyway and would have just barfed. Also, sudden switching from steady to hand-held camera (like in the scene with Leta in Hogwarts) was baffling.

For a movie with Fantastic Beasts in the title there were surprisingly few beasts in it. They’re not even an excuse as they were in the first movie: here they’re just in the title.

The worst part is that truly a day after I’ve seen it I barely even remembered what happened. That’s not what I expect from a Wizarding World movie. But maybe it’s time to lower expectations?

You can read this and other reviews on my Letterboxd profile.

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