Truly horrendous. Easily the most disappointing film I have seen all year, on a fundamental level this film was flawed, the primary culprit bing J.k Rowling and the extreme amounts of creative dominance she must have been given in the writing process.
First, I must praise certain aspects of this motion picture, although there is little to commend. The performances were for the most part a strength (Although some let the side down), most notably Jude Law as Albus Dumbledore was wonderful as the caring, charming and more complex young Dumbledore. In addition to this, I must comment that Johnny Depp was a surprisingly positive cast member, also Eddie Redmayne was alright, a little overdone on the mumbling aspect but still a pleasure to see. The rest of the cast was fairly competent with the exception of those that will be stated later on.
The screenplay of this film, what can I say. I have only negatives to deliver on this aspect. I can only image that what occurred was similar to George Lucas during the Star Wars Prequels - constantly surrounded by people who would only say 'Yes' to all the decisions. Because they are the one who mad the great original series, surely they can do no wrong. Oh how history has repeated Itself.
This screenplay fails on the basic fundamentals of story telling, show don't tell. Most of this picture is two hours of continuous uninteresting drear, badly written with actors struggling to convey the poor choices and dialogue delivered by Rowling. I may be mistaken but in one scene in particular, in Hogwarts, Theseus Scamander gets called a 'Weasley' - If this is memory is true, it is symbolic of the shoddiness and laziness of the screenplay and many of the the basic failures of this film.
The film follows two almost entirely unconnected threads, one of Credence and the other of Scamander. Both are boring, and the juxtaposition between them is jarring and fuel for confusion. The Credence plot-line is particularly of failure, it is highly unclear and unexplained, and is just 45 minutes of useless meandering with no emotional impact or significance to the plot as a whole. I even found Ezra Miller to almost seem as of he was struggling to even portray this incredibly bland, standard and boring character. I am one who knows a fair amount about the Harry Potter universe and at first I even didn't get the Nagini reference, until she became a snake in a very unnecessary and out of the blue scene, for she has zero effect upon even Credences story, I cant remember if she spoke a single line, and was so badly delivered by her actress by the fault of Rowling's screenplay.
Newt Scamander's plot-line was almost equally as uninteresting and badly executed, for in his plotline, he barely does anything. Once could have removed Tina, Jacob, Queenie, Leta Lestrange, Theseus, Yusuf and Abernathy and the plot-line would have ended in petty much exactly the same place. It is overcrowded, and it is truly a waste of acting talent. For all these performers are of a high caliber and here do nothing. All these characters were uninteresting with the exception of Queenie who had a somewhat interesting arc but was executed badly due to Rowlings screenplay, this singular arc had much more potential.
This plot-line is extremely convoluted, Newt Scamander has just over an hour of screen time, despite this being his movie, he is surprisingly not in it a great deal. There is one scene in particular which evokes my mention of the lack of the basic "show don't tell" fundamental of story telling. In this scene Leta Lestrange, Yusuf and the rest of the gang excluding Queenie, they use flashbacks to explain a plot thread about one characters lineage. It is extremely convoluted, and involves the Titanic, forced exposition and some complain about forced diversity (In making one of the Lestrages Black) but I dot not say that is a valid criticism. Overall this is supposed to tie up and be an evocative emotional moment for the majority of the characters in the narrative, but as the characters had little to no initial characterisation, the convolutedness only adds to the boredom, as the audience simply does not care for what is being presented, as well as how it is just exposition bing vomited at the audience, it is flimsy, boring and at the most fundamental bad film making, and entirely undefendable.
As a result, all of the new characters introduced in this feature hold no significance to the plot, nor are emotionally invested in, thus a waste of time. In addition to this, Jacob is fairly wasted in this feature, he doesn't grow as a character and simply tags along like a fish out of water that is no longer funny for the most part. Although the running salamander joke was effective, but this was his sole contribution to the film, all he does is look shocked or hold buckets.
Tina Goldstein played by Katherine Waterston is absolutely wasted as both a character and an actress. Such promise laid in this films precursor and yet contributes nothing to this feature, she had no function to the story nor any emotional impact on the audience at all. A total waste of Katherine Waterston who is a great talent in other motion pictures.
Gellert Grindelwald was played by Johnny Depp. And wow, what a mixed bag, one the one had he was handled well by Depp however in terms of characterisation and villainy, Rowling has really let the side down. Apart from the reasonably good opening scene, Grindelwald is unthreataning, bland and disappears for large chunks of the narrative. Fo a film which bares his name, he was hardly the focal point (Nor was Newt Scamander, thus who is the foci of this film?) Grindelwald flat out says he doesn't want to kill muggles, or hurt them, so why is he a threat? What are his crimes? All the characters simply talk about how bad he was, it is never shown apart from one cliche scene of killing a family, it hold little emotional wight or significance. Once again this flaw falls on Rowling and fundamental rule of "Show don't tell". Which I needn't divulge again. But this displays the fatal flaw of this film, how it fails on a very basic level, to deliver a crude, boring, uninteresting and convoluted product. In addition to this, Rowling includes very unsubtle Anti-Trump undertones which when delivered well can be thought provoking but in this film, are not delivered well and give an even more jarring and convoluted third act.
Now in must explore the screenplay as a whole. Of the greatest holes in the consistency of this feature is its two concurrent plots. For they are strenuously linked and are left unexplained, this results in headache, confusion and boredom. Nothing is resolved by the end, since there was no real problem at the beginning either, it feels like over two hours of useless meandering just propped up by bad hints to earlier greater works and setting up a future series, and every single film ever made in which isn't focus was to set up more films has been bad. For this film has no describable plot, it's a mess. Unlike other more successful films that have set up a future, such as phase one Marvel or heck even the first Hobbit film, they had discrete narratives of their own, and characters to invest in, this film does not have those fundamentals.
The plot-twists of this film are unconvincing and unimaginative and hold no weight other than that hey relate to earlier films. This a lazy trick used by Rowling and is simply bad storytelling. For due to the lack of proper character development or emotional weight, the twists hod, no impact to the audience and thus are simply cheap ploys used by Rowling to try and save the feature, which clearly didn't work on most of the audience.
On a technical level, this film holds some good aspects. The sound design and visual effects are for the most part fun and vivid but are fairly standard by modern blockbuster standards. The cinematography though, oh my god, it is terrible. Extreme disorientating closeups then suddenly standard unimaginative angles. It is truly jarring. The colouration is so incredible bland, other than the blue fake dragon at the end, no other image sticks in my head as memorable or even noteworthy or fun. It is almost black and white, so grey and depressing. This doesn't feel like a family friendly fantasy film about fun silly creatures and a Magizoologist, this feels like a fascist take over. If I had children I wouldn't show them this film, its grey, boring and jarring, all things unsuitable for young children over great distances of time.
As a result of the abhorrently bland cinematography and colour palette, the costume design, set design, makeup and visual effects all suffer. The image becomes flat, uninteresting, after the last film won the Academy Award (Oscar) for Costume Design, this colouration choice really does an injustice to this achievement, and to the hard work the costume designers must have gone to to trump their previous achievement. Nothing about this films image is good, its truly a mistake and must be fixed if people are to remember any future instalments, or find them fun. For this blandness works against the film, it is not stylish but instead is boring. Not like 'Schindler's List' which was in almost pure B&W which gave the film character or more recently the film 'Her' which used a lot of red hues to heighten the loving and bemused atmosphere. This film has no clear focus as to what its colouration/cinematography was seeking to achieve. For if it seeks to be dark, it belongs not in a film called 'Fantastic Beasts', the pathetic fallacy fails on a fundamental level, the semantic's do not match up. This film sis so confused in so many aspects. Even the score was completely unremarkable and completely forgettable, I cant remember a single part of it. Showing that its only function was to dictate emotion, not to heighten or compliment it as a good score does. 2/10.