Fantastic Beasts 2: A Franchise-Killing Disaster?

The first Fantastic Beasts was a love letter to the fans who were yearning for another Pottermore movie. The movie was a massive success with over 800 million dollars at the box office and generally positive reviews. Its sequel was released two weeks ago and has already made more than half of its prequel earnings. However, it was panned by critics. Forbes even said that it was a “Franchise Killing Disaster.” I disagree that it was that bad, but I do feel sympathy for the casual moviegoer because if you are not completely invested in J.K Rowling’s wizarding world, you probably would not understand one bit of this movie. 

The film boasts an incredibly talented cast with Academy Award winner Eddie Redmayne reprising his role of Newt Scamander. However, many critics disagreed with the casting of the villain, Gellert Grindelwald, as Johnny Depp due to recent allegations of domestic abuse against his wife. Rowling defended Depp’s casting and pushed for fans to ignore his past and trust his talent. In the movie, his performance shows to be underwhelming. In the first film, Grindelwald was disguised as Percival Graves, an Auror of the American Ministry of Magic. Colin Farrell, who played Percival in previous films, gave a compelling and emotional performance so many wanted him to return in Fantastic Beasts 2. Nonetheless, fans trusted Rowling’s judgment. The movie is named after Grindelwald so fans expected him to be a very prominent character. Grindelwald is a “wizard Fascist” and wants to use his power to dominate Muggles and non-wizards. He wants to indulge in a feudal system where wizards are on top. His character sounds frightening, so fans expected a cruel but pitiful yet endearing show by Depp. There was one problem: there was barely any Grindelwald. He made a few appearances but it was mostly him luring other wizards to follow his cause. In fact, the film’s climax is just Grindelwald making a blue ring of fire and asking those who are loyal to walk through it and join him. 

Aside from Depp’s performance, the movie had a countless number of subplots which made it seem more like a book being read by the narrator than an actual movie. The connections between the various events that occurred were unclear. Some of these subplots include Credence’s backstory, Nagini’s story arc, and Dumbledore and Grindelwald’s romantic relationship. The final revelation of Credence, a significant character being Dumbledore’s brother Aurelius, was gripping but it didn’t make much sense since Dumbledore’s past had no recollection of a long-lost brother. Knora Connolly states, “I thoroughly enjoyed the movie however, I found the final revelation to make no sense,” when asked of her opinion on the film.

Despite all this criticism, the movie had its strong points. Leta Lestrange was a very deep and interesting character and she was played by the wonderful Zoe Kravitz. The visual effects were sublime and mesmerizing. The movie was a great set-up for the five movie saga that Rowling has planned for this series and overall it was enjoyable. Is this a “Franchise-Killing Disaster?” Absolutely not, but it does have its fair share of problems. However, the low points of the movie are not a reason to skip it. The film contains strong acting, an epic ending and it keeps viewers at the edge of their seat. “Fantastic Beasts 2” utilizes the same formula of the original Harry Potter movies that fans fell in love with which is why many am definitely going back to see its sequel and the many that follow.  

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