Massachusetts Daily Collegian

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A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Is ‘Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald’ going to drag down the rest of the franchise?

Sequel was not a box office success
Official Fantastic Beasts Facebook Page

The magic of the wizarding world of “Harry Potter” is alluring to fans all around the world, which is why the franchise continues to grow and grow. After a five-year hiatus from “Harry Potter” films, filled with specialty book releases and a theme park opening, J.K. Rowling released a new story about the wizarding world in the 2016 film, “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.” This film was very well received by the Harry Potter fan-base, receiving an audience score of 79 percent on Rotten Tomatoes. It was the excitement of seeing further into the wizarding world, the aesthetic of 1920s New York City and Redmayne’s endearing performance as a magizoologist that made the film such a hit. Unfortunately, the second film in the “Fantastic Beasts” franchise, which is currently scheduled for five films, did not have the same level of success.

“Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald” dives right into the action, offering no review of what happened in the previous film. It begins with an exciting prison break scene, where Grindelwald (Johnny Depp) escapes from an American wizarding prison. Then we see the main character, Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne), back in London, who is still as adorably awkward as the first film. The premise of the film revolves around Newt being dragged out of his secluded life where he spends most of his time taking care of his extraordinary magical creatures and getting pulled into the dark side of the wizarding world by Albus Dumbledore (Jude Law). Dumbledore asks Newt to find Creedence (Ezra Miller), a young American wizard who was presumed dead at the end of the first film, but turns out to be alive and must be found before Grindelwald finds him. For die-hard Harry Potter fans, the prospect of seeing a young Albus Dumbledore is enough to get them out to go out see the film. However, the problem lies in the fact the majority of the appeal of the film lies in its references to elements of “Harry Potter.” Unfortunately, the film does not stand alone as a film that attracts viewers who are not a part of the devout Harry Potter fandom. It is a movie that is playing to the extreme fans, of whom there are not enough left in the younger generation of moviegoers for the film to be a success independent of its connection to Rowling’s wizarding world.

Maxwell Zaleski

Opening at around $253 million in global box office and $62.5 million in the domestic box office, “Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald” made approximately 16 percent less than the debut of the first film. This leaves critics wondering: has this film set back the entire series in terms of possible future success? It does not help with the reception of the film that Depp plays Grindelwald, as he was accused of domestic violence just six months prior to the release of the first film in the series. Additionally, what sets this prequel story apart from others, such as George Lucas’ “Star Wars” and Peter Jackson’s “The Hobbit,” is rather than a trilogy, Warner Bros. made it a five-film series. One cannot help but wonder after this film flunked in the box office, will this trend continue for the rest of the films?

Though the film is visually gorgeous, complemented by the stunning costume designs from Oscar award-winning designers Stuart Craig and Colleen Atwood, it is the messy and over-stimulating plot that made the film flop. It seems as though the creators tried to throw in as many “Harry Potter” references as they could without thinking about plot progression or tying them to the new world. For instance, several new characters are introduced who have connections to the “Harry Potter” story, such as Leta Lestrange, member of the Lestrange bloodline (Zoe Kravitz), Nagini (Claudia Kim), a maledictus cursed to become a snake, and Nicholas Flamel, the famous alchemist (Brontis Jodorowsky). On top of these new characters there is also Theseus Scamander (Callum Turner), Newt’s brother and Leta’s fiancé, and Yusuf Kama (William Nadylam), a French-American wizard with a grudge against Leta’s father. With all these new characters to keep up with, the plot becomes cluttered and it is difficult to “untangle who did what to whom and why.” Rather than telling a coherent and interesting story, the plot becomes a plethora of intersecting backstories and subplots, rather than focusing on a main through-line. ​

If it weren’t for Warner Bros.’ other successes this year, such as “Ready Player One,” “A Star is Born” and “The Meg,” “Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald would have meant trouble for the film studio. Though Rowling’s imagination is a fascinating place to journey through, with this film she was unable to tell a clear story that translates well to screen. However, at the end of the day, if you are an avid fan of “Harry Potter” and the wizarding world, the film is still worth seeing. Amidst all the complicated storylines, the wizarding world is always a thrill to watch. The viewers get to see even more into the wizarding world, as this film features the magic world in Paris. Additionally, the film provides more insight into characters fans already know and love. Lastly, the costumes and design of the world are absolutely spectacular. As in the first film, Newt’s case and all the animals that inhabit it are beautifully animated and make the viewers feel like they are watching a dream world on screen. And the costumes are gorgeous; they perfectly reflect the nuances of 1920s style yet also feature a magical flare for each character. So, though “Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald” may not be as commercially successful as “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them,” if you are a true Potterhead you will still go to see the film, because there will never be enough stories from Rowling’s spectacular wizarding world.

Nicole Bates can be reached at [email protected].

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    Fantastic Beasts supporter that's against abuseDec 14, 2018 at 3:01 am

    I didnt know that a film that’s going to gross $600 million worldwide is a flop . Some of the best animated films and marvel films barely topped $400 million worldwide and they were declared successes. It’s incredibly aggravating to see how critics are spreading clickbait titles and hate for Fantastic Beasts- there’s definitely an agenda here at work as mostly American’s have a problem . Critics and audience have allowed bias against various controversy to cloud judgement. Even Aquaman which has good ( not spectacular ) rotten tomatoes score of 70+% is getting unwarranted hate – there’s definitely a bias against DCEU and Wizarding world. Fantastic Beasts 2 isn’t the biggest hit but it’s not a commercial flop like Solo . It’s a medium sized hit .Critics should Stop pandering and over glorifying the mediocrity films that Disney puts out and call them hits .All problems of Fantastic beasts also plague certain marvel films but critics still love marvel . Even cinema is politicized in America with subliminal social messages being forced down people’s throats and of course american audience eats up these messages . The rest of the world appreciate fantastic beasts – only America wants their films dumbed down because they felt Fantastic beasts was overly complex.