The Crimes of Grindelwald committed the ultimate crime of being boring. Firstly, let me start by saying that I am a fan of the 'Wizarding World'. 'Harry Potter' is arguably my favourite franchise and, whilst there were issues, I did enjoy the first 'Fantastic Beasts'. But please, sit back and do not go anywhere...because I've got some things to say. Credence somehow survives his obliteration from the first film, to which dark wizard Grindelwald sets him a path to join him and his followers. A young Dumbledore innocently asks Scamander to retrieve him before it's too late. There's also a broken family tree regarding the Lestrange ancestry, a few romances, the occasional spell and the odd fantastic beast. I have no joy in saying this, but this sequel is the first 'Wizarding World' entry that is bad. It's not good, in the slightest. Why though? How can such an assured franchise have such a dismal chapter? It's not the acting. Redmayne bumbles his way along sheepishly, which proves to be oddly charming. Law has the aura and spiritual presence of a young Dumbledore. Kravitz packed in some much needed emotion. Heck, even Depp was perfectly solid with his menacing demeanour. It's not the visual effects. The magical creatures looked glorious and the effects from spells were magnificent to watch. It's nothing extravagant as we've seen it all before, yet remains consistently good. It's not Yates' directing style. The experienced 'Harry Potter' director knows how to work the camera to propel that sense of wonderment and awe. It's not Howard's score. Seamlessly blending the Hogwarts theme tune with the new 'Fantastic Beasts' score. So, who's really responsible? J.K. Rowling.
She proves that not all novelists can make the transition to screenplay writing, and unfortunately that's abundantly clear after watching this. Rowling's mind, much like the world she imagined, is thick with lore. Characters, spells, creatures, environments and plot details. It's all very elaborate. Yet, there's no focus. Consistently jumping from one plot point to another. Flashbacks, foreshadowing and the criminal offence of excessive exposition. She utilised all the uninspired narrative techniques to tell a story, and unfortunately her need for nostalgia and franchise building has left this chapter feeling like a "filler". The overall story hasn't progressed. It leaves more purposefully constructed gaping plot holes and unanswered questions, so that you come back in two years and watch the sequel. Then we come to my all time favourite criticism: plot conveniences. Remember when everyone in New York City got obliviated? Well, it coincidentally only affected bad memories. So that means we've got all the characters from the first film back again, for absolutely no reason whatsoever. Queenie and her No-Maj literally only provide comic relief, and even that is tame. Credence is back after being decimated, negating the emotional turmoil that the first film left with. Nagini has one or two lines. Oh look, Nicolas Flamel! Eyyy, he said "Azkaban". Wait, is that McGonagall teaching before she's born? Oh, who cares! The plot is messier than an Obscuris. But what I'm getting at is that the story and all of its details are aimed towards the more hardcore fans of Rowling's work. I honestly believe casual audiences will be left feeling confused and bewildered at all the questions this sequel raises. Everything was needlessly complicated! The "jaw-dropping" conclusion left me raising my eyebrows instead of exclaiming "what!? No way! I must find out what happens next!", and I would consider myself a fan of Rowling's fiction. Nothing entranced me. Nothing captivated me. Nothing was worth my time. An absolute disappointment.