“Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald” serves as pointless fan fiction

Ty Davis

Bad movies happen. They are a part of life, like sudden expenses or inconveniences. You really wish they didn’t happen, but they do and you just have to roll with them. Even among bad movies, there are certain sins you should never commit, like wasting the audience’s time. “Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald” did exactly this. 

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In addition to being a pointless work of fiction, this film actively detracts quality from the rest of the “Harry Potter” universe. Let it be understood that I do not care that J.K. Rowling wrote the screenplay, because it does not matter who wrote it. Bad writing decisions are bad no matter who wrote them and the changes are not validated because of Rowling. The “Star Wars” prequel trilogy is not good despite being written by George Lucas. Rowling is not infallible no matter how much fans make her out to be the literary second coming of Christ.

“Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald” exemplifies the idea of having too many cooks in the kitchen. There are so many sub-plots to this movie that, despite your best efforts to pay attention, you will invariably lose track of what is going on. The movie does not give enough time for you to feel what it is showing you, but rather it wants you to see it, accept it and feel the emotional weight instantaneously.

Characters forward the plot by doing things without giving much, if any, explanation of what they are doing and why they are doing it. For instance, Credence (Ezra Miller) returns and has somehow managed to find enough information to start tracking his lineage, the audience is never given an explanation of how he does any of this. There is a scene where Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne) and Tina Goldstein (Katherine Waterston) need to find family records and unless you caught just one line of dialogue, you are totally lost as to why they know they have to do that. 

On the topic of both Credence and family records, an entire section of the movie is dedicated to explaining the various histories of different “Harry Potter” bloodlines and inter-family dramas. This is for the sake of trying to get to the bottom of a complex web that will hopefully explain who Credence is. The film makes a dead-stop to explain the thing that surely only the most ardent “Harry Potter” fans care about, but — in the end — it never mattered.

There are entire characters and sub-plots that serve no purpose to the story or theme what-so-ever. Characters from the first “Fantastic Beasts” film show up, despite not needing to be there in the first place. The entire sub-plots of Jacob and Queenie (Dan Fogler and Alison Sudol) and Yusuf Kama (William Nadylam) could just not exist, and the movie might actually be all the better for it.

The film features some of the most prominent figures in the “Harry Potter” world, presumably to give the idea of a small world that is intimately connected except, you guessed it, they don’t do anything. They make no impact on the plot and are only there for people to go “hey I know that person.” The whole point of the small-world trope is to show how everything the world is a series of cause-and-effect while using a small number of characters to help convey a sense of drama.  Nicolas Flamel, the creator of the sorcerer’s stone, a vastly important figure in the world of “Harry Potter,” is reduced to a simple decoration. 

Should you watch it? No way. 

“Pointless” has probably been uttered more times in this review than anyone would like, but no word perfectly encapsulates every issue with “Fantastic Beasts.” The entire journey, plot, and story was an utter waste of time. Nothing of importance happened in the plot. The world does not change significantly, no one really went through major character arcs, and barely anyone is in a different disposition. The only thing that significantly changes is where on a wizardly political spectrum some of the characters are.

As I was watching the final twist of the film, which was neither built up or alluded to, and actively changes the previous canon for the sake of shock value, the underlying problem finally dawned on me. Rowling has written what can essentially be called two hours of indulgent “Harry Potter” fan fiction. This is not to put down the fan fiction community, which hosts a myriad of talented writers who create work that not only adds to the original fiction but in some cases surpasses it.

The type of fan fiction Rowling has written is the self-indulgent type, where it does not matter if the work shows a fundamental understanding of the characters or themes. There is no concern for telling an adequate story, so long as the characters seem cool or make artificial plot points happen. This is the type of fan-fiction that just wants to see characters have romantic interests, regardless if it makes narrative or thematic sense, which comes to a destructive end when you actually have to justify the story.

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Ty Davis can be reached at entertainment@collegian.com or on Twitter @tydavisACW.