Spoilers for Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them
There are a lot of things that can break a movie. A story that meanders and doesn't go anywhere, a director that is the wrong fit for the material, a little detail that breaks the flow of the movie; all of these things are not present when it comes to Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them. We have a story that (while slow) does its job of expanding the Harry Potter universe, we have director David Yates who understands this world better than anyone and as much as I might not want to admit the very white cast is mostly accurate for that section of New York City (but it was way too white). The cast is almost entirely great all around, but in the final moments the entire audience is jerked out of the movie so fast we get whiplash by the appearance of a particular character. Or in this case it's not the character as much as the actor; the mask of Colin Farrel's Graves fades to reveal Johnny Depp's Grindelwald.
Depp, not that long ago, was an actor that seemed to print money for the box office. He was credited for making the Pirates of the Caribbean as long lasting as it is, and the huge box office smashes that came with his earlier team ups with Tim Burton were the dream of the hidden goth kid in all of us. In recent years, however, the opinion of Depp has soured considerably. He has starred in some amazing duds including Mordecai, Alice: Into The Looking Glass, The Lone Ranger, and Dark Shadows to name a few. It seemed like Depp was everywhere and everything we saw him in was terrible. He's an actor that is no longer recognizable by the roles he plays but by the person he is.
There are some actors that get lost in roles and we can believe they are anyone on screen. Depp, however, doesn't appear to have that ability anymore. When he appeared on screen during Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them the entire movie seemed to grind to a halt. I didn't see a character on screen but an actor that I've come to find extremely irritating in recent years. It took me out of the experience and for a movie that had, until that point, kept me extremely engaged it was a jarring experience. The movie is nearly over so I had no time to fall back into the world I had been enjoying, and I spent the remainder of the movie distracted despite Depp no longer appearing on screen.
Then there is "the other thing". I understand that the allegations brought forth by ex-wife Amber Heard are something that the pop culture media loves to debate. I don't know if Depp is guilty, I have no way of knowing that, but the way the entire thing was covered might as well have been an introductory chapter on rape culture in the media. There is the idea that a woman will fake being beaten and raped, to get money out of rich men. They were quick to label Heard a 'gold digger' which is just disgusting. I personally believe Heard's allegations because I tend to side with the victim. Whether you believe the allegations of abuse or not Depp is an actor that draws strong responses from the audience. The casting might have been made months before, he might have shot the scenes prior to the allegations coming out, so the casting director and people involved had no way of knowing any of this would happen, but this is the reality we live in. Even if the scandal never happened Depp was still overexposed and I feel like the effect would have been similar if maybe not as extreme.
The casting of Depp and his appearance in Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them is one that I've seen people debating across the board. I've talked to multiple people who had the same knee jerk reaction to his appearance that I did. Depp is an actor that needs to step away from the public spotlight for a few years until we can learn how to separate the man from his name. However, since we're getting four more movies in the Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them universe and a fifth Pirates of the Caribbean movie I don't see us getting a break from Depp anytime soon.