The most positive thing I can say about this film? They tried. They really tried hard. They tried to build off the amazement of the first film, create their own story, set up a universe, and tie it into the Harry Potter universe. They really tried. The trouble is; they failed. Badly.
It’s like they didn’t really care that much, to the point where it seems like bad fan fiction. They didn’t care about carrying on the legacy of the first film, the ending of which was slightly heartbreaking and sweet and wonderful and completely undone within the opening 5 minutes of this film. Let’s remind ourselves of what happened at the end of the first film: Grindelwald is captured, and Dan Fogler’s character has his memory wiped. Opening of this film; Grindelwald escapes, and Fogler’s character didn’t actually lose his memory (this is explained in the worst bullshitty way possible, that’s so bad I won’t spoil here, but needless to say there is no way it was planned).
They didn’t care about creating their own story, a lot of issues people have bought up about this film have had people respond with “but it might pay off in a future movie”. No, fuck that. It’s okay for a film to be part of a series, but it needs to stand on its own two feet to be considered worthy. It’s fun to bingewatch a movie series, but if bingewatching it is the only way the movie is good, then you’ve failed as a writer.
They didn’t care about setting up a universe. As mentioned before, so many of the moments which are intended to set up the universe, just end up being annoying and frustrating the audience.
They didn’t care about tying into the Harry Potter universe. They messed around with McGonagall’s age so that she’s middle aged and working at the school before she should even be alive. They made Nagini human, which kind of makes Neville Longbottom a murderer, and COMPLETELY changes the nature of Voldemort and Nagini’s relationship, makes a it a lot creepier. It’s a bit odd really as both of those things didn’t need to be done. McGonagall being there didn’t add anything to the plot and nothing would have been lost if they just made her a completely different character. Nagini, also, never really came into the plot. They also don’t seem to understand the Mirror of Erised, treating it like a magic flashback machine.
There are other issues with the film too. A lot of the action scenes aren’t really very cinematic, and consist of people waving their arms about as pretty lights go around. It’s not an action sequence, it’s a light show. It also has an ending that’s so bad I’m not going to mention it.
Actually you know what? Fuck it I’m mentioning it. It turns out Ezra Millers character is Dumbledore’s brother, no, not the one who got caught doing things with goats, the other one, you know, the one that has NEVER been mentioned or even alluded to at ANY point. Yes, it surprises me, but that doesn’t mean it’s good. If I ordered a pizza and got a piece of shit, I’d be surprised, but I’d also be annoyed and feel cheated. And that’s how I feel about this movie, I expected pizza and got a turd.
I feel it has to be said that Jude Law does make a GREAT Dumbledore in the extremely few moments he’s in this film. If it was focused more on him, I’d have enjoyed it a lot more. Also, the set design is BEAUTIFUL, the whole universe looks fantastic. It also has just enough charm to carry it through the worst parts. And finally, whenever I type the title of this film into my phone it autocorrects it to “Fantastic Breasts”, which makes me laugh as it sounds like something from Wallace And Gromit.
I know it seems like I’m being overly harsh on this film, and I am. But it should be better. I’m not expecting it to be the best film of all time, but I’m expecting internal logic and consistency. People have been following Harry Potter for years now, and it deserves a lot better than this.