I watched the second film in the Fantastic Beasts series last year and was a little confused by the plot. So I thought that reading the screenplay might help. It did, although I still have some issues with the story.
This one isn’t nearly as good as the first film and screenplay. It just doesn’t feel like a story in its own right, more of a scramble towards the war which will end, as we already know, with the defeat of Grindelwald. The tone is much darker too, which isn’t a problem as such, but it means there is less humour and a lack of charm in comparison. I did like reading the screenplay, as I enjoyed the return of familiar characters, the scene setting and the fast pace. However, it felt as if too much plot was squeezed into the available time. I’m not sure how it could’ve been simplified. Maybe there were too many characters in the mix. There certainly wasn’t enough of Newt and Tina. That’s a pity, because their brief moments together are tense and very watchable/readable. We’ve also become used to Newt as the main character so it doesn’t feel right that he has less of a role in the second instalment. Moreover, one of the best features of Fantastic Beasts is… the fantastic beasts. They aren’t much of a presence this time around.
The story begins with the escape of the dark wizard Grindelwald. He’d been captured with the help of Newt and co in New York. Now he’s gathering his followers in Paris and pushing his brand of wizarding fascism. Newt, Tina, Queenie and Jacob converge on Paris, where Credence, who for some reason is working at a freakshow, is about to join Grindelwald. We also have Theseus (brother of Newt) and his fiancée Leta Lestrange. And a freakshow performer called Nagini, who isn’t explained much but I assume she and Credence are friends and that somehow she ends up as Voldemort’s scary snake in the future. Dumbledore is also featured – he is unable to fight Grindelwald as the pair were formerly ‘closer than brothers’ and made a blood pact. The main confusion for me centred on the storyline about Credence’s identity and the history of the Lestrange family. It just seemed needlessly complicated. Moreover, I wasn’t impressed with the roles of female characters in the story. They sacrifice themselves or join the dark side or are murdered. The only exception is Tina.
I’m still looking forward to the next films (and reading the screenplays, when they’re available at the library) but I don’t think any of them will match the first.