Why I Didn't Like Fantastic Beasts 2

2 years ago, I was thrilled about the release of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. As a self-proclaimed Potter-nerd, I couldn’t wait to see the franchise come back to life. And, as I wrote in this article at the time, I loved it. As I headed to the theatre for Fantastic Beasts 2: The Crimes of Grindelwald, I was equally excited...but this time, I walked out disappointed.

Beware: this article contains spoilers. Read on for my opinion of the wizarding world's latest edition, and leave me a comment if you disagree!

When the first Fantastic Beasts film came out, I expected to be a little confused about the new characters and new plots being introduced. It was a new arm of the franchise and the first of 5 movies, so I expected some exposition and new character reveals. This time around, though, I did not expect to be quite so confused--after all, we met these characters already--but I was even more lost than I was during FB1. Crimes of Grindelwald introduces so many new characters, most of which have complicated backstories but many of which only seem to play small roles in the overall plot. There are so many subplots that it is hard to tell what’s actually important as you watch, and the big twist at the end loses some of its effectiveness after so many detours throughout. I walked out of the theatre with my head spinning and feeling like I needed to do an Internet deep dive before even beginning to think I might have things straight.

Watching this movie also made me want to remind J.K. Rowling of the old adage “if it’s not broke, don’t fix it.” Believe me, I love a Harry Potter Easter egg every now and then--but this movie felt like an attempt to rewrite the original characters and stories we’ve known and loved. Maybe these Potter references were included to set up the next 3 films in the series, but I personally felt that they were too much and took away from the new storyline. Plus, I think that anyone who hasn’t seen the original 8 movies or read the books would have a hard time understanding this film (even if they have seen FB1). I really didn’t understand the role of Nagini, the boggart scene seemed forced, and yet some of the connections that would have really made the plot interesting (Dumbledore and Grindelwald’s past relationship, for example) were underdeveloped.

Worst of all, some of the Potter references contained inconsistencies with the original plot--and true Potterheads do not mess around with plot inconsistencies. For example: Dumbledore taught Transfiguration, not Defense Against the Dark Arts, and according to the original series, McGonagall wasn’t even alive until 1935, which makes her appearance in this 1927 set a bit of an issue.

Despite all of my complaints, this movie wasn’t all bad--I still think that Newt is an endearing character, and I still love all of the beasts (especially the new ones). I’m not done looking up theories for the movie’s ending, and I’m sure you’ll still find me at the theatre for films 3, 4, and 5. My only hope is that the next 3 sequels somehow fight the sins of this film just as they fight the crimes of Grindelwald.