J.K. Rowling

REVIEW: Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald (2018)

After Gellert Grindelwald (Johnny Depp) escapes from justice and starts to amass his followers, Albus Dumbledore (Jude Law) tasks magizoologist Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne) with finding the powerful but dangerous Credence (Ezra Miller) before Grindelwald does.

Amazingly, a lot happens in Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald but at the same time, the many characters and their actions do little to further the overarching plot. The main plot could take up less than an hour, everything else is loose plot threads that have the potential to come to fruition in future films but in this one they leave you confused and cold.

As well as many new characters being introduced in The Crimes of Grindelwald, Newt’s American friends return too – even though characters like Jacob (Dan Fogler) and Queenie (Alison Sudol) seemed to have a completed story arc at the end of the first film! You meet Newt’s older brother Theseus (Callum Turner) who works for the Ministry of Magic and is engaged to Newt’s childhood friend Leta (Zoë Kravitz), both are interesting but have little to do.

There’s so many scenes where characters just dump exposition and usually not in a compelling way either. There are also flashback scenes of when Newt and Leta were studying at Hogwarts together. These are sweet and the younger actors do a fine job but through previous dialogue between adult characters you got that they used to be good friends and Leta had a tough time at school. These scenes, while nice, weren’t needed and added little to the film.

The special effects are stunning, though the opening chase sequence is hard to follow, and when Newt is with his fantastic beasts, those scenes are a lot of fun and cute. However, going forward it’s hard to imagine if future films will keep featuring magical creatures (or even keep the “Fantastic Beasts” title) as these scenes while more light-hearted and show off what a truly wonderful character Newt is, do little to further the convoluted plot.

There’s some very odd and potentially insensitive choices as well throughout the film but especially when it comes to the future Grindelwald predicts. In his quest to show his followers how bad and dangerous Muggles are, he insinuates that the Second World War and all the horrors that come with it can be avoided if wizards were in charge. It is a sequence that is weird and almost unbelievable.

The Crimes of Grindelwald is just messy. None of the characters have a satisfying or complete character arc, very few of them achieve their goals, and the story as a whole is convoluted. The way some scenes are edited leads to confusion too as characters seem to suddenly appear or move from one location to another without much set up. Also, there’s so many connections or easter eggs relating to the original Harry Potter series – some of them are great whereas others seem to make little sense with what we already know. It’s as if J.K. Rowling is throwing in all these references, whether it’s a characters surname or an object, and hoping that these cool things will detract from the fact that the new story is overstuffed and chaotic.

My main takeaway from Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald is Newt is a sweetheart, I love his brother Theseus and I hope there’s more of their relationship in the next film(s). There is a lot of set up in this film, for so many characters and plot threads, and little pay off so hopefully future film(s) will be more exciting and satisfying. But that does mean Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald has little about it that’s memorable or important. 2/5.

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TOP TEN TUESDAY: Top Ten Books I Want My Hypothetical Future Children to Read

Top Ten Tuesday is a feature run by BrokeAndBookish each week. This week the topic is all about the books we want our future hypothetical kids to read – or if we have any young children in our lives like nieces and nephews, what books we’d love them to read. I don’t know if I’ll have children, but there are definitely some books that I feel young kids should read, and books that shaped me and I’d love to share.

The Magician’s House Quartet by William Corlet
This series was one of the first to make me cry and I was less than ten years old. I’m not saying I want to make my hypothetical children cry but I’d like to see if it affects them as much as it did me.

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis
This whole series is magical but The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe is the most magical and I think it’s one of the most accessible for younger readers.

The Animal Ark series by Lucy Daniels
I actually gave all my Animal Ark books, all 70+ of them, to my Godmothers daughter years ago, from what I heard she did enjoy them and I hope now she’s a teenager that she’s either got them in a safe place or has passed them on to someone else to love. (more…)

K is for Kingsley Shacklebolt

kingsley shackleboltKingsley Shacklebolt is one of my favourite minor characters from Harry Potter and I loved the fact he appeared in the films as so many characters were obviously cut out due to time.

Kingsley is a high-ranking Auror working for the Ministry of Magic but when he starts to not believe the Ministry’s lies about Voldemort’s return, he is persuaded to join the Order of the Phoenix and he’s a real asset to them. Kingsley is one of those characters that doesn’t often say much but he’s like a steady presence in the background and when he does say something it is worth listening to.

The fact that he is well-regarded in the Ministry means that he is put in charge of protecting the Muggle Prime Minister. I love how the Muggle Prime Minister describes him as “highly efficient, gets through twice the work of the rest of them” which shows Kingsley’s work ethic even when it comes to Muggle stuff. But even though protecting the Prime Minister is such an important job, he takes the time to go to Dumbledore’s funeral and help Harry get to the Burrow because he believes that Harry is the most important thing.

I like Shacklebolt’s humour and how smart he is, you’ve got to be smart if you’re working as a double agent. He’s a great wizard who is brave and he is one of the few members of the Order of the Phoenix to make it out of the Battle of Hogwarts relatively unscathed.

TOP TEN TUESDAY: Ten Fictional Families I’d like to Celebrate Thanksgiving with

Top Ten Tuesday is a feature run by BrokeAndBookish each week – I’m thinking I might not take part every week but just see if a week takes my fancy. In honour of Thanksgiving (which I know nothing about really because I’m a Brit) this week I’m going to list the ten fictional families I‘d like to celebrate with, these families are going to be from books, films and TV shows and my favourite trope of “Families of Choice” will almost certainly be making an appearance.

The Pevensies – The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis
Sure the Pevensies don’t always get along but they always come together and sharing a special dinner with them, and maybe some other characters like Mr Tumnus and the Beavers, would be nice.

The O’Connell-Carnahan’s – The Mummy and The Mummy Returns
This family is #familygoals. Rick may be the only American in the family so he might have to persuade his wife, son and brother-in-law to take part in Thanksgiving but I’m sure they would and then Ardeth Bay could join in too.

The Baggins’ – The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkein
Whether it would be a small dinner with just Bilbo and Frodo, or if Pippin, Merry and Sam were there too, it would be a great meal because Hobbit’s know their food and how to party. (more…)

TOP TEN TUESDAY: Top Ten Creepy Books

Top Ten Tuesday is a feature run by BrokeAndBookish each week – I’m thinking I might not take part every week but just see if a week takes my fancy. In honour of Halloween, which I don’t really do anything for, here are some creepy books you might want to check out if you’re in the mood for a scare.

poePoe by J. Lincoln Fenn
There’s supernatural elements in Poe as well as the standard stuff of having a creepy old house full of secrets, a séance and a possible psychotic murderer. Poe may be creepy but it also does a great job in adding humour to make the creepiness bearable.

The Strain by Chuck Hogan and Guillermo del Toro
If you’ve seen the TV show, you’ll know what The Strain is about. The thing about the book is it starts with this plane that’s completely silent and the atmosphere in the airport is suffocating. From there it never really lets up, there’s the vampire like creature, the graphic description of peoples bodies changing – the whole thing really sets your teeth on edge.

172 Hours on the Moon by Johan HarstadFullSizeRender (48)
I don’t want to say too much about it because it’s one of those books that’s best to go in blind but it was another creepy book that gave me goosebumps. I liked the tension and sense of foreboding throughout the novel and when the weirdness starts to happen, you don’t know what to believe. (more…)