Fantastic Beasts and Where It Went Off the Rails…

monkey at the movies 2

*With spoilers*

Well, look at me being late to the party as usual. By now, if you’re at all interested in Crimes of Grindelwald, you’ll probably be aware that a lot of people have been saying that this movie was a mess. They say it was poorly structured and pointless- and they’re totally, unequivocally, inarguably right- buuut… I was surprised to find I still enjoyed it. Perhaps this was fuelled by my nostalgia, perhaps it was because I had such low expectations going in- but honestly I think this film does have a fair number of qualities to make the viewing experience a good time:

Compelling characters- check tick box

Stunning visuals- check tick box

Great story- ehh not so much… cross box clipart

I will freely admit that there were interesting parts to the story to keep me engaged- mostly stemming from the fact that the characters work well. This is particularly true of Leta Lestrange and Newt Scamander, who I love, and who demonstrate that not all heroes have to be sword-wielding Gryffindors (though a little more Ravenclaw love in these movies wouldn’t go amiss 😉). I also particularly liked the way Crimes of Grindelwald examined Leta’s view of herself as evil. And as someone that’s spent a long time asking for subtler villains, I can say I sort of got my wish… but more on that in a second. Cos before I go ahead and say anything else, I want to give this movie 3/5 bananas:

hand-drawn-bananahand-drawn-bananahand-drawn-banana

are we the baddies nazisNow you have proof I didn’t hate this movie- let’s go ahead and see why it’s such a monstrous muddle. We can start where I left off: with the baddies. Once again, Rowling has embraced the Nazi metaphor- because no one else in history was evil like the Nazis. While the imagery is strong, I do think Rowling’s view of Nazis comes across as a little confused. There’s supposed to be this scary implication that Grindelwald’s followers hid behind “we’re better than that” slogans and were allegedly claiming to be pro-freedom. Problem is, Nazis were openly for state control and beating people up for being on the wrong side before they got into power. They also weren’t hiding their genocidal tendencies as people like to believe. So, no, people saying they’re pro-freedom is not code for Nazism and does not have the sinister undertones this implies. And while I’ve been begging for better villains, there is such a thing as being too subtle.

This is only a minor nitpicky issue though, particularly when taken with the fact that I do think the line “the greater good” is sufficiently shiver-inducing. What will be more troubling to general movie-goers is the way mystery and plot twists are handled. Holding this up against HP’s/Agatha Christie’s standard, it falls short. Largely because in those mysteries, the clues are such that everything can be worked out, even if it’s challenging to do so. Take the Sirius Black Easter eggs from chapter 1 of the Philosopher Stone. You get so many hints early in the series that tell you *exactly* where it’s going. It doesn’t mean you can work it out (like RAB) but that when it all comes together you have that OHHH moment (like Snape’s story). Here, the twists feel cheap, because there’s no way of knowing where it’s going before you get there. For instance, this plot point:

Leta’s brother is dead, we’re told he’s dead, except maybe he’s Credence… oh no way he’s definitely dead because Leta switched him with another random boy on the boat.

dumbledore confused.gifNothing has actually changed in terms of the original information and we’ve got no clues as to who Credence is from that snippet and the audience *shrugs its shoulders*. When it is revealed that Credence is Aurelius Dumbledore, it feels even lousier. There are only two clues for this- that aren’t really clues at all: the talk of a phoenix earlier in the movie (which feels more like a movie tie-in) and Dumbledore talking about Credence needing a sibling (which only stands to reinforce the Credence Lestrange theory at that stage). These really just point to it not being a Grindelwald lie, rather than feeling like earned hints at a larger plot. More importantly, in my view, it contradicts existing canon- you know, where Dumby allegedly told Harry everything?! If this whole brother thing was so integral to that story, how come he never came up?! And couldn’t he have had a joke at Rita Skeeter’s expense, something along the lines of “that incompetent bint didn’t even know about my secret brother!” Ultimately, this feels like an inferior way to connect the two series and is something I will never be fully on board with. It’s such a curveball that I’ve found myself embracing ridiculous theories- not only to make sense of it but also cos these theories would at least make for an entertainingly bonkers story.

mcgonagall confusedSpeaking of ridiculous things that can only be made sense of with bad theories- WHAT THE HELL IS MCGONAGALL DOING IN THIS MOVIE!?!? And don’t try to say this is possible when a) it contradicts the fact that she says *in the books* she’s been teaching at Hogwarts 39 years. Now it doesn’t take a genius to calculate that HP was written in the 90s and that this is the 20s- so THIS DOESN’T ADD UP- GAH!) and b) they deliberately went to lengths to remove her age on Pottermore to cover up this error. The only theory that can make sense of this blunder is time turners- and we all know how well that works in HP fanfic *coughs* Cursed Child *coughs cough*. My personal opinion is that this is lazy retconning from Rowling- ie “McGonagall was over a hundred all along”. Naturally my response is ughhhh. This, together with making Dumbledore teach defence against the dark arts, is just a lazy addition that didn’t need to be there. Especially since it’s designed to make fans all fuzzy and warm inside… but will likely only succeed in driving us to *oblivate* this detail from our too-well-versed in Potterlore memories.

And, yes, this may seem petty, but the reason this is so frustrating is cos for the most part this film seems designed just for real fans. My sister didn’t know what was going on half the time and my mum gave up. I had to keep filling them in. And that’s with the confusion caused by *all of the above*. What’s ridiculous is that some of the deleted scenes can make sense of the story- eg how Credence came back, what Credence’s relationship with Nagini was etc. This is most likely due to the modern trend of trying to force movies to fit run time- regardless of content- and it’s such a huge mistake when it comes at the cost of coherent storytelling. The original opening was vital information- DON’T CUT IT! (cut one of the less important, rambly chase scenes or something)

hermione bitch pleasePossibly *the worst* new addition, however, is the magical gizmo that means Dumby and Grindlewald can’t fight. The original version- and what JK implied- was that Dumbledore didn’t want to fight because he didn’t want to find out who killed Ariana. Plus had some conflicted feelings about it cos he used to be “friends” with Grindelwald. While this change can make sense of how Ariana was killed by accident, this doesn’t make up for the fact that this ruins a meaningful, moving element of the original series. Really, it doesn’t make sense to me to trample on what already existed in order to make this sub-par movie.

Forgive me if this review’s been all over the place- the truth is it’s hard to discuss a sloppy structure in a linear fashion. I hope there’s more rising action in this post than there was in the movie 😉 Again, I’d like to reiterate I had fun watching this, but that doesn’t mean I’m oblivious to its faults. And honestly it wouldn’t surprise me if this series is dead in the water.

So- dare I ask- what did you think of this film? Do you agree with any of my points or am I being a bit harsh? Let me know in the comments!

93 thoughts on “Fantastic Beasts and Where It Went Off the Rails…

  1. I haven’t seen the film yet — and, after seeing negative review after negative review, have zero motivation. There are better ways to spend my time. BUT … I have listened to the soundtrack, and found it quite lovely.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. I was tentatively still on board right up until that plot twist about Credence being Dumbledore’s brother. It completely goes against the canon – unless JK is going to reveal he’s actually a secret cousin or something I can’t see how it would fit in with the original Potterverse!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. That’s exactly where my head was at! I don’t think it would have bugged me so much/made me want to get into all its issues- it realllly didn’t work as a twist, since it was not only never built upto, it also goes against canon so completely!! Very infuriating!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. You raise some fair points there. I liked the film but I think it suffers from not having a strong enough story (it’s just a bridge between films 1 and 3) and the focus on Newt and the beasts (the best elements of the first film) has shifted, making it all less fantastic! You may be interested in my review of the screenplay which is coming up soon 🙂

    Liked by 4 people

  4. When McGonagall appeared I got so angry, even in the cinema I turned to my sister with a look of shock on my face. It’s lazy writing, did they honestly think we wouldn’t notice that Minerva definately wasn’t old enough to be teaching at that point. It was a very random film, I loved the French Ministry and Leta Lestrange’s character but I was disappointed overall.

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    1. I did too! I wasn’t in the cinema but I definitely turned to my sister and just went “WHAT!?!” (she told me to shh 😉 ) It made zero sense and took me out the movie! I’ve seen people have to justify it with time turners (and if you ever have to justify something with a time turner, you know the story has gone off the rails somewhere). Yeah I did really like Leta Lestrange- but it was so disappointing.

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  5. I love this review and agree with everything you say! I was so disappointed in it and felt a little let down. I enjoyed the dark side of Fantastic Beasts but also the wonderful, light hearted and warm character of Newt. I also loved Tina and Queenie both as individual characters in their own right but their sisterly relationship, the strength of their bond came through to me in the first movie.

    This one though? Um. I think it was dark for the sake of being dark, I get that they are heading towards a horrible period in time and so the stakes are high but I think they just threw in some nasty moments for the sake of it. I adored Newt still but he was underused as was Tina (although I love how their relationship slowly progresses) and the absence of the sister’s relationship made me feel sad.

    Don’t get me started on Nagini. Just…. she was a prop in this movie and it made me want to punch myself in the face. I’m not even talking about the ridiculous retcon, if someone retcons that bad then at least have the decency to treat the character with dignity!

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Thank you! Yeah I really was too- I also very much enjoyed the first one. And I really liked the sisterly bond between Tina and queenie in the first movie- too bad that didn’t carry over into this film.

      I very much agree. It was much too dark and you make an excellent point about them throwing in some horrific scenes just for the sake of it. I agree! I still really loved Newt and it was a real shame they didn’t bother to use the sisterly relationship as well.

      Oh yeah that bit of retconning- *facepalms* (actually all the retconning makes me facepalm to be fair 😉 ) I can’t believe she wasn’t detrimental to the plot, since apparently it was so necessary to put her in the movie!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Great review! I did enjoy the film but you’re right that there are big plot holes.

    Not convinced Credence is a Dumbledore but I suppose anything is possible!

    Re timelines, I just don’t think about it! The Potter timelines have always been a mess.

    Liked by 3 people

  7. The change in reasoning behind why they couldn’t fight bugged me. I thought the original reason was just so human and understandable. I’m guessing the next movie will be all about breaking that spell so they can 😦

    And much as I liked Leta the whole switching the babies thing was just out there. It’s been awhile since I’ve seen it but I still stand by its too much story shoved into another story that doesn’t belong together. Enjoyed your review!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Yeah it really bugged me too- I also thought the original motivation was so human and quite meaningful. Yeah I have no doubt it’ll be about that too.

      Yeah it really was. Ah that’s a fair assessment. Thank you!

      Like

  8. I haven’t watched it yet. I’ve heard another person say it was too long and could have been edited a bit more. But if the structure of the movie is sloppy and mainly meant for hard-core fans, then perhaps it wouldn’t be the best movie for me. I may get a bit lost haha.

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  9. I can honestly say I agree on every single one of these points, as I’ve more than certainly felt the exact same way about it. I’m honestly annoyed at all the missed potential, but, oh well I suppose :/

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Yeah it definitely was- I really agree with you- I think there is a tendency to equate all things bad with Nazi (and yes people do use it too lightly nowadays for insults). And I can understand why she does that here- she is a children’s writer and often simplifies her good vs evil narratives- but my problem is, if you’re going to consistently lean on a history, it should be accurate

      Liked by 1 person

  10. I was disappointed by that movie, especially after Fantastic Beasts, which despite its flaws was surprisingly pleasant. I agree with all the points you made, the villains were truly underwhelming and made no sense – especially the scene of Quenie’s “seduction”. But the award for the lamest idea goes for the Dumbledore/Grindelwald gizmo and Credence’s Dumbledore heritage, which makes totally no sense (as well as McGonagall’s presence in the movie!) and seems to be there only as a foundation for more movies and more money.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Yeah I really agree- I very much liked the first one as well. Yeah they really didn’t make any sense. And oh yeah I hated that whole seduction part!! Really agree about those being the worst parts as well! I very much agree! (and basically there to appeal to old fans- which funnily enough seems to have ended up having the exact opposite effect)

      Liked by 1 person

  11. I’ve heard so many terrible things about it. Honestly, Harry Potter is a great franchise, but we don’t need it to expand this much. It’s like a really great pizza that has just the right amount of toppings, then some asshole decides to put marshmallows and jelly beans on top.

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  12. YES TO ALL OF THIS. I am a “real” fan (whatever that means) and I enjoyed the movie well enough, but every single bit of this bothered me. I especially hated Aurelious as it felt completely out of left field, and as you talked about in the Potter books everything was always ever-so-subtly hinted at the whole way along. I don’t know how Rowling went from that to this. There are so many inconsistencies with the books, and they all seem to be at the expense of tying things back to the original trilogy which most fans actively DON’T WANT. McGonagall is currently being explained away by “Maybe she took a break from teaching for some time in there” but that’s weak at best. Still in love with Newt, his beasts, and Jacub though. Can’t wait to see what happens to Queenie.

    Also, I think Grindewald is lying to Creedence. There. I said it.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I completely get what you mean- I enjoyed watching it, but that ending was the worst. Rowling used to be so good at putting in hints without giving everything away- I feel like this was done more to shock the reader and was more of a “you didn’t see that one coming, did you?” Which I don’t think is a better way to reveal a mystery. And I really disliked the inconsistencies as well. Yeah that’s a really weak explanation for McGonagall being there (also they had to remove her age from Pottermore, which had her as not even having been born yet, in order to make this canon- that’s just blatant retconning). Yeah I still love Newt and I’m curious about Queenie (though I don’t hold out much hope).

      I think that explanation would make sense- except for the phoenix symbolism and the way it was done like a big reveal. But the only way it can work in current canon is if Grindelwald is lying in some way (and it’s about the only way to defend this decision)

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yeah, the Phoenix symbolism is … something. But like, obviously they don’t have a problem with inconsistencies, so maybe that will just get thrown out the window too. But apparently they are delaying the third movie about a year past the original intended date, so maybe the next one will be an improvement. *crosses fingers*

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  13. I agreed with all of this! Including the fact that I was expecting to be disappointed by it and yet found myself liking it all the same, a bit of a puzzler. Also I know Eddie Redmayne is v popular but I cannot stand his mumbling delivery…I could hardly understand what he was saying a lot of the time. And yes more beasts needed! The plotline that made the least sense to me was Queenie’s – as desperate as she might have felt, there was nothing in her character in the previous film to hint she could be a Grindelwald sympathiser. I think the Beasts world is enchanting because it’s magical, but I wonder how long it can keep going with all these plot howlers

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    1. Glad you agree! Yeah I also found it a bit puzzling- especially since I’d seen a lot of people complaining about it. That’s fair! And yeah there definitely needed to be more beasts! I really agree that Queenie’s character arc made *zero sense*- how can she read minds and then believe in their cause? How could this have come so left of field? I do think it’s an enchanting world, but they’ve made a mess of it. hahaha love the pun 😉

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  14. Yup … I had a hard time with this film. I felt so confused … and so many things don’t add up with the original 7 books. If we’re going to have these, they need to match up with the already released content.

    I liked the first one with Newt, just because I wanted to know more about him. I have always wanted a series about Voldemort growing up and turning into the Dark Lord, or a series about Harry’s parents growing up in school and joining the Order.

    I unno … I felt like a lot of things were sloppy … HOPEFULLY they make sense later on.

    I also wasn’t sure why the professors weren’t wearing wardrobes but suits? This actually doesn’t match some of the flash backs from the original movies and books … yup … I’m being picky … I can’t help it!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Yeah me too- it was a very confusing plot and completely contradicted the original series :/ Absolutely agree!

      I did like Newt a lot (in both films) and I’d be interested in a series about Voldy growing up, but mostly I’d just like a Marauders story- though I’m not sure we’ll ever get that.

      Yeah it really did feel sloppy.

      Yeah I have no idea why they did that? It was such a strange choice. I don’t think it’s picky when it’s established literally from the first chapter of the first book that what visibly sets wizards apart from muggles is their peculiar dress sense! So why change it?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes … totally agree. Way too many discrepancies …

        Oh my gosh … the Marauders story!! I so want more on that!!! UGH! We should just spam email Rowling and beg for it lol

        And yes … thank you! It made NO sense at all … just … it’s the little things like this that make me feel like they didn’t pay enough attention, ya know?

        Liked by 1 person

  15. It sounds like you’re ready to accept you’ll be a squib for the rest of your life. My favorite character was Arabella Figg; able to see the magic but unable to perform any. Whatever Squibs can or can’t do, or see and can’t see, they have more than proved their worth in the wizarding world. Power to the Squibs!

    Liked by 1 person

  16. YES YES YES! I agree with all of these points. I had fun watching this, but then when it was over, I said out loud, “What in the world?” And the woman next to me said, “I know! This is my third time, and I’m STILL confused!” So sure, it was fun, but I’ll probably not watch it again on purpose.

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  17. I haven’t seen either of the Fantastic Beasts films but have heard all of the issues with the Crimes of Grindelwald. It seems so bizarre to me that a woman who planned the first series so well, wrote this and has resorted to cheap twists! So disappointing and clearly an easy money grab.

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  18. I agree with everything you said here. This movie was a mess, yet I did enjoy parts of it. Especially Newt, for the reasons you point out.

    My biggest problem with this series is that a) it’s a rehash of the plot and themes from the original HP–been there, done that and b) they try so hard to connect it to the original HP story with characters and such. Just let it be it’s own thing!

    Also, I’m still peeved because they had an opportunity to do an adventure series (similar to Indiana Jones except without all the cultural theft) where Newt travels around the globe to study fantastic beasts and explore the local magic communities. But nooooo, they had to do a rehash. So stupid. (Still, I absolutely love Newt’s character so I guess there’s that at least.)

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Really glad you agree! And yeah, I did really like Newt 🙂

      Yeah I hate when reboots rehash old plots (and then do them poorly I might add). And I’m so frustrated that literally every. single. character has to connect with the original.

      And yeah- I really thought they were gonna go with an adventure series when I originally heard this was going to be a thing! Really agree- so annoying (I do get that- his character is one of the best in the whole HP universe)

      Liked by 1 person

  19. Wow, it’s crazy that you published this review because I literally planned on publishing mine later this month! My review is fully written out, and I gotta say that I absolutely agree with you on all your points, especially the trinket thing. Like, WHY ON EARTH. There was such a moving reason in the original series for Dumbledore not wanting to fight Grindelwald, so I facepalmed myself so hard when they ruined that in this movie. I truly believe that they shoehorned this object in so they could have some excuse for Newt go on a mission in the next movie to destroy the trinket, but still…what a copout. It really shows they didn’t have any good reason to extend this franchise except for money alone. *sighs*

    Excellent review btw!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Oh that’s cool- I really look forward to reading your take! 😀 I’m really glad you agree as well. And I completely agree!! The original series gave such a good emotional reason why Dumbledore didn’t want to fight- why add a magical gizmo?! And yeah- I think it’s the exact same thing *sigh*. Yes unfortunately.

      Thank you!

      Liked by 1 person

  20. I liked the film because I like the Wizarding World and it’s cool to be able to see new stories in it. But the film is a mess. It’s far too complicated to follow and, for what? A surprise reveal that goes against canon. It’s ridiculous.

    Liked by 3 people

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