Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore is streaming on HBO. My younger daughter, Alex, wanted to see it and asked if it could be last night’s movie.
We do that, you see — propose and counter propose until we finally agree on a movie or episodes of a series that we’d watch before bedtime. I wasn’t exactly gagging to see another Fantastic Beasts movie. To say that I didn’t enjoy the two previous ones would be a huge understatement.
But, with all the fuss about Johnny Depp’s replacement as Gellert Grindelwald, I thought it would be interesting to watch Mads Mikkelsen take on the challenge. It’s not that I was preparing to laugh at him. He’s a damn fine actor. I have yet to see a movie where he didn’t deliver with panache. Truth be told, he’s a better actor than Johnny Depp.
So, I agreed that Fantastic Beasts would be our movie of the night.
Mads Mikkelsen’s performance was, as always, impeccable. But that’s not really saying much. There wasn’t a lot of acting required because there’s not much of a story to tell. The dialogues were awful. The characters were wooden and their emotions were one-dimensional. Not one of them was memorable. Considering how I simply plodded through the full running time of two hours and sixteen minutes, I won’t remember most of them tomorrow. They are just so, so, sooooo forgettable.
It’s not that the movie was completely bad. If we focus on the visuals and nothing else, then, it’s far from bad. The visual effects, the costumes and the sets were all terrific. But that’s not really the way to perceive and comprehend a film, is it? A movie is a confluence of story, performance, sounds and images. If one of these fails, then, there’s a shortfall.
In the case of Fantastic Beasts, the sheer lack of story and the duller than dull dialogues were so overwhelming that they crushed the awesomeness of the visuals and the performance of the actors. Instead of eliciting gasps of awe, seeing the visuals was just one long exercise on how to exhaust the eyes. And hearing the actors deliver those trite lines was downright beastly.
And that killed any hope that I’d have lasting memories of the movie. Just as I have very little memory of the first two Fantastic Beasts films. There simply is nothing magical in them. No charm. There is nothing to make one laugh, cry, cheer, or feel annoyance, anxiety, fear or rage — all the emotions that a viewer experiences when watching a Harry Potter movie.
A waste, really. A waste of good actors. A waste of production design. A waste of creativity.