Last night Katie and I went to our first movie in the theater since becoming parents – we’re so wild! We didn’t love the first Fantastic Beasts film so didn’t have very expectations for this one – and that’s about what we got. WARNING: THERE BE SPOILERS BELOW!
- There are some good visuals, which make seeing this in the theater rewarding.
- There are some cute and funny creature moments.
- Johnny Depp and Jude Law are fine in their roles as iconic Wizarding World characters. Neither is really exceptional but they don’t really have much to work with either.
- If tweets using #FantasticBeasts can be believed, the movie seems to be resonating with 17-year-old fangirls, so clearly some people are finding it to be a worthy entry in the franchise.
- The characters are, for that most part, uninteresting. There are so many of them jam packed into the film that few of them get any development at all.
- As a substitute for character development there is a lot of bad, expository dialog. Tell don’t show!
- Even with all the beat-you-over-the-head explanatory dialog, the movie is messy, disjointed, and confusing. It feels like it was stitched together haphazardly instead of edited for a coherent narrative.
- A number of things that happen in the film – from plot points to character motivations – just don’t make any sense.
- This is sometimes due to inconsistency in the “rules” of magic. The Harry Potter stories took great pains to maintain an internally consistent of the Wizarding World. In these new films it feels like magic is either omnipotent or impotent depending on what the plot calls for at the moment – and seldom in between. As a consequence there is no real tension during any of the pivotal scenes.
- There are blatant conflicts with established Harry Potter canon.
- As usual with David Yates, the direction is fine but just kind of paint-by-number.
- For all of this, the film is, I hate to say, boring.
- Like The Hobbit, Fantastic Beasts 2 forces in so many unnecessary references to the previous Harry Potter installments as to detract from the film itself. I mean, really? Dumbledore teaches bogarts the exact same way Lupin (who had a different Defense Against the Dark Arts professor) would go on to teach them 70 years later? *Eye roll* These are more than subtle easter eggs; they’re overt, cheap fan service.
- The Fantastic Beasts series is supposed to expand the Wizarding World but every new character seems to be related to characters we already know. Between this and the preponderance of heavy handed references, it serves to shrink the wizarding world instead.
- The collective effect is turning the Wizarding World into a soap opera. Who did what now? Oh no he di-idn’t! So-and-so had a secret baby with whom? Oh my! Every Wizarding World piece Rowling has written since the Harry Potter novels has relied on these sorts of cheap twists – rather than epic fantasy, it’s like we’re watching the Jerry Springer show.