MOVIE BUFF-ET: ‘The Crimes of Grindelwald’ more flat than fantastic

Warner Bros.

Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald

“Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald” certainly isn’t the worst movie of the year, but it might be the most disappointing.

I enjoyed reading J.K. Rowlings Harry Potter novels as well as watching the films, including “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.” Certainly some were better than others, but all enjoyable and had their merits. I can’t say the same about the latest venture into the wizarding world.

New In Local Theaters

  • Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald (PG-13) 2 hr. 24 min.
    (AMC Fiesta Square, Malco Razorback, Malco Rogers Towne, Malco Springdale, Malco Pinnacle Hills, Bentonville Skylight)
    » Watch trailer
  • Widows (R) 2 hr. 10 min.
    (AMC Fiesta Square, Malco Razorback, Malco Rogers Towne, Bentonville Skylight)
    » Watch trailer
  • Instant Family (PG-13) 1 hr. 59 min.
    (AMC Fiesta Square, Malco Razorback, Malco Springdale, Malco Pinnacle Hills)
    » Watch trailer
  • A Private War (R) 1 hr. 50 min.
    (Malco Razorback, Malco Pinnacle Hills)
    » Watch trailer

The movie looks fantastic, and all the characters who charmed fans of the first movie are back, but the film is so plot-driven and convoluted that it saps all of their charm and charismas away like a pack of Dementors. While the movie has a good bit of flash, it lacks the heart, substance, and originality we’ve come to expect.

The final flamboyant battle between arch-villain Grindelwald (Johnny Depp) and Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne) is explosive, but it doesn’t make up for the first meandering two hours of the movie that plays out as bloated setup for the third film in what is planned to be a five-movie series.

The basic plot is that pure-blood wizard Grindelwald believes his kind should be calling the shots in the world rather than muggles or non-magical beings, and he sends out the clarion call for all like-minded wizards and witches to join the fight.

With the film set just before the Great Depression, Grindelwald predicts another World War if the Wizards don’t take control. Grindelwald gives off a Hitler vibe with his supporters acting as surrogate Nazis. Grindelwald’s motivations and plans are so similar to those of Voldemort’s in the original Potter series that Depp’s character comes off as more tired than scary.

Albus Dumbledore (Jude Law) recruits Scamander to track down Grindelwald and stop him if he can.

To lure the ultra-power, but gullible Creedence Barebone into his fold, Grindelwald helps the young wizard discover his parentage.

The first film featured a charming and touching love story between human Jacob (Dan Fogler) and witch Queenie (Alison Sudol), but the two are quickly separated in the film and so is the most interesting relationship in the movie.

Director David Yates, who did such a fine job directing the final four films of the Harry Potter series, offers awesome digital effects, some very nifty shots, and solid action, but the film is truly stymied by a boring story that left me uninterested until the final 20 minutes of the movie.

Fandom for J.K. Rowling’s world of wizards will likely push the film to box office success and keep the series pumping, but Rowling, who wrote the screenplay, should look back at what made her series of novels so enchanting and give her fans more of that and much less of what she and her fellow filmmakers offered in this outing.

(PG-13) 2 hr. 24 min.
Grade: C-


Paramount Pictures

“If “Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald is the most disappointing movie in theaters, then “Overlord” might be the most surprising in a good way.

The film had B-movie schlock written all over it, but director James Avery and screenwriters Billy Ray and Mark L. Smith serve up some Grade-A quality schlock with heaping helping of imagination and gore.
Unfortunately the trailer gives away what could have been a great twist as the movie is a mash-up of a war movie and a horror flick. The title of the film refers to Operation Overlord the code name for the 1944 D-Day landing at Normandy.

Providing airs support for the landing, U.S. paratroopers parachute into a Nazi-occupied French village with orders to take out a radio installation, located in a castle. Once on the ground, the surviving soldiers learn the a Nazi scientist is conducting Frankenstein-like experiments on villagers and soldiers with disgusting and alarming results. Mayhem ensues.

Avery directs the film with a lot of gusto and style, leaning into the craziness and dark humor of the subject matter. The movie has a few nice scares and plenty of gory, gross-out moments.

I wouldn’t recommend everyone rush out and see this movie, but if you are fan of horror, this is not a movie to miss whether it is in the theater or later when it hits the streaming services or cable.

(R) 1 hr. 50 min.
Grade: B

Classic Corner

Here Comes Mr. Jordan


When a boxer named Joe Pendleton (Robert Montgomery) dies before his time in a plane crash, heavenly emissary Mr. Jordan (Claude Raines) gives his soul the chance to inhabit a newly deceased body of a white-collar mobster Bruce Farnsworth to live out the rest of his life. The only problem is that his new body’s wife and secretary still want to murder him.

The film answers the question of how Joe will not only live out his destiny, but also how he will halt his wife and secretary’s nefarious plans.

The 1941dramedy, directed by Alexander Hall, also stars Evelyn Keyes as Bette Logan, Montgomery’s love interest and James Gleason as Max “Pop” Corkle, Pendleton’s boxing manager, who is also in on the secret.

Montgomery’s strong as the pug Pendleton and the crooked banker Farnsworth. His chemistry with Keyes and particularly Rains as his guardian Angel, make the film a charming fantasy that holds up well decades later.

“Here Comes Mr. Jordan” plays at 7 p.m.(CT) Saturday on Turner Classic Movies.