Movies: Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald

Starring: Eddie Redmayne, Johnny Depp, Jude Law, Zoë Kravitz, Ezra Miller, Callum Turner
Directed by: David Yates
Written by: J.K. Rowling
Warner Bros., 2018
PG-13; 134 minutes
3 stars (out of 5)


Well, I liked it more than the first one. But... There are still a lot of problems here. At least for me.

This film picks up six months after the last one ended. Grindelwald escapes during his extradition from New York's Ministry of Magic to London's. Three months after that, we discover Newt has been confined to the UK, his... travel pass or whatever the Ministry of Magic gives out... revoked. He's given the chance to travel again if he'll join his brother Theseus, the auror, in his work to find Grindelwald. Newt says no.

But then Dumbledore asks Newt to go to Paris to search for Grindelwald anyway. Um... I dunno. All the motivations in this film crisscross into knots. People want to find Grindelwald, they want to find Credence (remember him?), they want to find their girlfriends and sisters and... 🙄 There are a lot of unnecessary flashbacks and subplots, a lot of hitting the audience over the head with information, and not a lot of actual tension. Plus the action scenes are so heavily edited that one can't follow them; you just sort of sit and wait for them to play out. Very little sense of wonder here, or amazement at what we're seeing. And the big reveal can be spotted miles away—and contains some revisionist history so heavy handed that I just couldn't swallow it.

All this and yet, as I mentioned, I did actually like it more than the first one. Which isn't saying a ton, since I found the first one pretty meh. This one is meh, too, in other ways, and a bit irritating (again, with that revisionist history), but the story overall was more interesting. Though it had almost nothing at all to do with "The Crimes of Grindelwald."

And if you were one of those people who anticipated that Jude Law would only be on screen for about ten minutes... You were right. Pick up your prize at the door.

What did I like, then? Leta LeStrange. I think her story would be fascinating. And I like Theseus Scamander, too (what little I've seen of him). I think younger Dumbledore is cool and wouldn't mind more of that, either. Even Nagini's story might be interesting to read or watch.

But. Newt + Tina does nothing for me. Jacob + Queenie does nothing for me either. ::shrug:: I'm not sold on either of those relationships or plot lines. Not feeling the chemistry there.

So. I know I'll be in the minority. But I'm no huge Harry Potter fan to begin with; I only ever thought the series was okay. So this movie isn't aimed at me, and my lukewarm feelings toward it won't douse the fire of all the fans who are sure to love it.


Vote for Faebourne!

My novel Faebourne (now available in paperback as well as on Kindle!) is up for a Reader's Choice Award, but is sadly lagging in the polls. Mind giving it a vote? It's on page 14, under Historical Fiction. I appreciate the support!


Movies: Crazy Rich Asians

I was really excited for this movie. The book has been on my TBR list for a long time, and at first I thought I'd try and read it before seeing the adaptation, but last night I gave in and watched. And... I was a little disappointed. Like so many things these days, I think it might have been overhyped.

This isn't to discount the fact that a film with an all-Asian cast made money. I'm so, so glad to see new faces, new cultures on screen. And I'm equally enthused that the film did well. Hopefully that will open doors to more of these kinds of movies.

And by "these kids" I also mean good, old-fashioned rom-coms of the type they really don't make any more. Ultimately, that's what Crazy Rich Asians is, and I guess that might be where it fell down for me. Because I do love rom-coms. But this one was so predictable, so rote... And I think maybe the book has more depth? The film hits all the typical beats, and in some cases developments seem to come out of nowhere (the dad thing), or get semi-lost in the shuffle (the affair subplot). Everything is really slick here—it's actually a gorgeous film to look at—but it loses something in introducing so many characters that none of them gets enough screen time to make much of an impression. (Peik and Oliver excepted, of course.) Like, we're introduced to Amanda as a "threat" in the form of an ex, and then she just drops off the face of the film. Bernard and Alistair are jerks, and that's their only defining qualities. The grandma switches sides on a dime. And we're supposed to feel bad for Astrid, but he hardly know her either. Meaning a lot of what should have had tension... didn't.

At least for me. But I think the casting and acting was spot on. It was the script or the editing that failed. Perhaps it presupposed that viewers had read the book and already knew the characters? That we'd walk in with the background info we needed to fully enjoy what we were about to watch?

I think what I'm getting at is: I should have waited and read the book first. I still want to. And, to be clear, this isn't a bad movie. The hype just didn't do it any favors because it made me expect more. Still, I enjoyed it. In a sea of action flicks and... whatever else they're making these days (horror?)... this was a nice change.


IWSG Reminder

I know some of you stumble over here after clicking on a comment I may have left on an IWSG post. But I don't post my IWSG here. It's over on PepperWords. So please do hop over there for a look, and thanks for stopping by!

Q: What's the difference between the two sites?

A: This one is for reviews and the other is my author site.

Q: Why not have it all on one site?

A: I'd love to, but I don't have the time and energy to merge them. One day I may bring two blogs into one, but today is not that day.