Too dark

Review of Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald

I’m going to break my own ‘rule’ on this one. Normally I only write positive reviews. If I don’t like something I can usually acknowledge that it’s just my preference, or I’ll make a personal complaint if something isn’t up to scratch. But how I feel about this latest film from the Harry Potter stable reflects a number of issues very pertinent to Conscious Evolution.

Spoiler Alert: this review may give away something of the storyline!

First the plus points. As one would expect the effects are stunning (particularly in the 3D version which I watched) and some of the creatures are particularly well done. I loved Pickett, the sentient stick-bug, for example.

Eddie Redmayne’s Newt Scamander is endearing and believable. And the references, via their early lives, to the characters of the original Harry Potter series is intriguing.

I could complain that the various plots are so ingenious as to be too complicated to make sense of. But maybe that was because I hadn’t watched the first Fantastic Beasts and was so missing some of the background character knowledge.

But that was not the main reason I did not enjoy this movie. And if you don’t enjoy going to the cinema, why go?

I found the whole film far too dark: both physically (the vast majority of the scenes seemed to be set in some dungeon or otherwise dreary setting) and in story-line and mood. To me it was depressing. The world’s dark and dreary enough without being overwhelmed by it when out for entertainment!

One could say, in defence, that this (and many other current films and TV series) merely reflect the world we currently live in; that they, through dramatic effect, are helping us to see and accept this reality. Sorry, that argument doesn’t wash with me. And that may be because of the other reasons I didn’t like or enjoy this tale of evil:

Grindelwald (Johnny Depp) is just another Voldemort. Do we really want another Voldemort? Personally, no! Seen one fight to the bitter end against such a villain and you’ve seen them all. However much you dress it up in clever effects, it’s boring.

Worse than that, the whole idea of ‘fighting’ belongs to an unevolved (animal?) way of thinking and behaving. From a perspective of evolving consciousness, we might say “what we resist persists”. That is, the more you challenge someone, the more you’re likely to set them against you even more. The conscious, evolved, approach is to rise above the physical and find an emotional or energetic solution. And by that I don’t mean by using magic. As Queenie (Alison Sudol) found out, enchanting your man is no way to win their heart!

The good: bad struggle at the heart of this (and most) tales only takes place at the physical level if it’s not sorted within us. As Harry Potter himself demonstrated only too well in the original films, success in magic (as in anything else) comes when we face and overcome our own deepest fears. This deeper, inner, struggle was largely missing from The Crimes Of Grindelwald, leaving my heart heavy at the wasted opportunity to evolve beyond sword (or wand) to a wiser way of engaging with the world.

What’s even more frustrating is that the storyline even admitted how one’s early life can be influential in how and why a given individual turns to the dark side. So Credence (Ezra Miller) was ‘lost’ at not knowing who is parents were? That’s hardly a novel or unexpected reason for his behaviour. Please, let’s move the plot on, can we? Again, lets have some wisdom alongside the wizardry  . . . and some emotional intelligence. Instead of all the sparks flying and flumes of horrible smoke, could we have some active listening and some tender compassion to resolve the conflicts! Surely wizardry has a part to play in human evolution. As Chris has been telling us, magic is returning to all of us: wizards and muggles alike.

I presume that sequels in the Fantastic Beasts series are in preparation. I won’t be watching them: for the same reason I watch very little news coverage: it drags my mind and mood into the ways of thinking that are not good for me. Harry Potter seemed to be offering hope, not just of the triumph of a pure heart but for films with the same quality. This film goes backwards, not just in time, but in its feel and intent.

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