Saturday, January 19, 2019

The Crimes of Grindelwald | J.K. Rowling

I am reviewing a book having seen its movie first because that is the way that the world has presented these things to me. CRIMES OF GRINDELWALD is the second movie/screenplay in the Fantastic Beasts series, which has three more on its way. This book was decidedly disappointing. It read like an absolute middle

Without having just re-watched/read the first installation of the story, I was lost immediately in its forwarding of plot events that seemed minor in part one and have somehow blown themselves into major storylines in part two. Though I do recommend this book to those who were confused watching the movie only because the characters are all named on the page (and thus it's easier to tell Old Man 1 from Old Man 2 from Younger But Still Old Man 3), I felt disappointed reading through to find that the scene switches and introduction of what felt like dozens of new characters made no more sense in the literary version than that on screen. This book truly felt like MINOR CHARACTERS AND WHERE TO FIND THEM.

My unhappy thoughts on either version are as follows: 
  • Newt's presence felt forced; memories of old love lacked a proper foundation from the first installment and were thus confusing here. 
  • The vast number of setting switches is whiplash-inducing and, while visually appealing in the film, made the screenplay hyperactive.
  • Young Dumbledore resembles Old Dumbledore faintly at best.
  • I still cannot bring myself to care about what happens to Credence, because I did not truly understand his role in the first installment and thus was utterly lost as to why all of a sudden every Evil Person wants him now.
  • There should have been more beasts.
Yet, this is J.K. Rowling, and I have loved seeing the inside of her head since I picked up my first Potter book at age 10. The plot is perhaps jumbled because this particular story isn't terminal. Because someone in the movie-making universe has decided to stretch this narrative out into five installments, the heavy-handed introductions of new characters and bland transfer of the first story was perhaps unavoidable. Obviously, I still own a copy of the screenplay despite not liking the movie. I'll support this universe forever because of how much the Potter books mean to me, and will of course give thanks accordingly for the bits that were uncompromisingly lovely.

Despite its faults, this story still does a few things with care, and I appreciated many of them:
  • The flashbacks to Hogwarts (and the scenes within them) were expertly crafted, visually appealing, and reminded me of why I consumed this story in the first place.
  • Alone, the storylines are intriguing, and fleshed out throughout the course of the five movies will surely ameliorate my current disappointment/confusion.
  • Reading the screenplay helps organize the new characters and answered many of my questions post-film-viewing.
  • The few beasts depicted were glorious and interesting (the Nifflers especially; I mean, who doesn't like a good Niffler?).
Overall, if you'd really like to read the screenplay, I recommend getting it from the library or borrowing a copy from a friend who's already spent their $15.49 on it. Heck, I've got a copy I'll loan you. I don't plan to read it again until the third installment is released possibly in 2020, when I hope that a veritable time jump will carry us away from the jumbled plot of this story and bring us into some true Wizarding World action.

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