Why Does The “Fantastic Beasts 2” Trailer Feel So Wrong?

Matthew Loffhagen
Warner Bros
(Photo: Warner Bros)

The initial trailer for “Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald” is here, and, meh.

Sure, it’s fun to see Hogwarts again, and Dan Fogler’s enthusiastic fistpumping should be a meme that lasts forever.

Beyond this, though, there’s just something underwhelming about the entire trailer. Something feel wrong, but it’s hard to put a finger on exactly what it is.

Perhaps it’s Dumbledore. In theory, Jude Law seemed like the perfect casting for this character, but to see him in the role, he just doesn’t seem very Dumbledorey. He’s not trying to emulate Richard Harris or Michael Gambon in their performances, and while Law certainly entitled to give the role his own flavor, it’s hard to see much Dumbledoring going on in the trailer.

But, then, we’ve had multiple Dumbledores before in the past, so this shouldn’t be too big of a deal. Presumably, with time, audiences will get used to the latest new interpretation of the character.

Perhaps, then, the problem with the first trailer for “The Crimes of Grindelwald” is that there’s not much action going on. The original “Fantastic Beasts” movie trailer takes its time, making the film look exciting and intruiging, whereas this new trailer is mostly focused on reaction shots and quick cuts, making it hard to pay attention to what’s going on.

There’s definitely a darker element to this new movie – the ominous, “Inception” style horns of modern trailers have replaced whimsical chimes in the music, and everything’s dark and gloomy. It looks like this new film is going to lean heavily into the gritty, grimdark world of the later “Harry Potter” movies to a greater extent than the first film.

If that’s the case, then “Grindelwald” is going to be very boring. The least interesting part of “Where to Find Them” is all the grumpy stuff, and it seems like we’re going to get a lot more of that, rather than any of the fun stuff with Newt and Jacob playing magic Pokémon.

Perhaps the biggest problem with this trailer, though, is the inherent bad vibes that the series has earned since the “Scooby Doo” ending of the first movie.

It’s hard to tell whether the problem exists within this trailer, or whether the controversy surrounding Johnny Depp’s inclusion in the film, and the straightwashing of his and Jude Laws’ characters, make it genuinely hard to love the entire franchise at this point.

Perhaps it’s unprofessional to suggest that a movie trailer looks bad because of the ideological underpinnings of the movie, but it’s getting really difficult to separate the politics from the narrative with this movie.

It certainly seems as if the company that cut the trailer together (which wouldn’t be Warner Bros themselves; they hire out for that sort of thing) recognize that Johnny Depp is the opposite of a selling point in this movie.

The Crimes of Grindelwald
Source: Warner Bros

Where a few years ago a film in which Depp plays a key role (such as the second “Alice in Wonderland” movie), the actor would have appeared front and center in the marketing.

Here, though, Depp is relegated to a very brief appearance, almost as if the trailer company is embarrassed about his inclusion in the film.

Perhaps it’s too soon to write this movie off just yet. After all, a single underwhelming trailer doesn’t necessarily mean the movie itself can’t be good, and it’s nice that we don’t get the kinds of massive spoilers that might show up in, say, a Sony trailer.

At the same time, though, the general apathy that this trailer has received suggests a lot about the current climate surrounding the entire “Fantastic Beasts” series. It’s very possible that this movie is going to do a lot worse at the box office than the first one, and based on this trailer alone, it’s not hard to see why.