Title: Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald
Author: J.K. Rowling
Rating: 4/5 stars
Everyone in the Harry Potter fandom has been on the edge of their seat waiting for this movie for two years. Hundreds of theories have been made during this time, based off of the Potter series, the last Fantastic Beasts film, and the small bits of information we’ve been getting for this one. This movie connects more to the Harry Potter series, what with Dumbledore, Hogwarts, and the big reveal from the final trailer: Nagini. Expectations were high, and I believe the movie met them.
Now, I’ve seen the movie twice already, and the whole time I was so tense and nervous about everything that was going on. This movie is much more intense and complicated than the last one; it’s like having a ton of information thrown in your face for two and a half hours straight. J.K. Rowling did say the first movie was to set up the characters and the story so the viewers got to know them, and this second movie would tie in a lot more with the Harry Potter series. I think it might tie in too much to the original series all at once. Everything seems to happen so fast, and the scenes keep switching between characters, so it’s pretty hard to keep up with.
Warning: There are spoilers beyond this point!
Let’s talk about the characters first. From the very beginning, Queenie seemed to be acting strangely, and not at all like herself. She cast the enchantment on Jacob and just wasn’t as upbeat as she had been in the first movie. I thought everything she did was very out of character for her, although I do understand why she went over to Grindelwald’s side; mostly because of her love for Jacob (speaking of which, their relationship was so cute, but so sad when they were fighting! I love how Jacob called Queenie all the pet names you can think of, aww.). I also think she felt pulled towards Grindelwald because, at the time when he talked to her, she was in a city she didn’t know, and had just lost track of both Tina and Jacob, and therefore didn’t know anyone in Paris. She was vulnerable (ugh, every time I say this word now, I think of the movie Elf, and it’s so annoying) and overwhelmed when Grindelwald reached out to her, and I understand her motives completely.
Which brings me to another amazing thing about this film: Grindelwald. He’s such a great character and villain! Unlike Voldemort, Grindelwald had the ability to love and he had emotions, so he seemed more human. In the Harry Potter books, Voldemort just went around killing everyone, which wasn’t very realistic, so wasn’t very scary. Grindelwald, however, didn’t kill whenever possible, and used words instead, to convince people to join his cause. When he was speaking, you could actually understand his reasoning, which made him a much more real, convincing, and scary villain. I was also a little worried at the end of the first movie that Johnny Depp would portray Grindelwald as half crazy, which Grindelwald wasn’t; he was Dumbledore’s equal, and very intelligent. But this movie proved my thinking wrong; although Grindelwald looked crazy, he didn’t sound crazy. I would still prefer someone other than Johnny Depp to play Grindelwald though (coughcoughCOLINFARRELLcoughcough).
Abernathy was suddenly working for Grindelwald in this movie and we didn’t get an explanation as to why. In the first movie, it seemed pretty clear he was against Grindelwald. Also, I couldn’t help but notice the names of future Death Eaters associated with Grindelwald: Travers, Rosier, and Carrow, as well as one other familiar name in the cast list, associated with the Ministry: Chang.
Someone we know was close to Grindelwald is Dumbledore, WHO IS AMAZING!!! Jude Law did a fantastic job of capturing Dumbledore’s character and spirit in this movie, and I don’t think it could have been any more perfect. As you might know, Dumbledore is one of my favourite characters in the Harry Potter series, and I was over the moon when I heard he would be in the Fantastic Beasts franchise. Dumbledore’s personality and essence seemed exactly the same to me, and several times made me laugh out loud at how perfectly Dumbledore he was. It was said by J.K. Rowling that Dumbledore wouldn’t be explicitly gay in this movie, but I thought it was pretty much as close as you could get without saying it. The scenes with young Dumbledore and young Grindelwald were pretty obviously romantic, as well as middle-aged Dumbledore’s reactions to them.
Dumbledore, in turn, was very close to Newt as well. My favourite character. Just as in the first movie, I loved Newt. He’s so relatable to me, as a Hufflepuff, and as a person in general. I’m still so happy the main character in this franchise is such a lovable Hufflepuff. I think the famous quote by Dumbledore, so similar to what he later says to Harry, describes Newt perfectly: “Do you know why I admire you, Newt? You do not seek power. You simply ask, ‘is a thing… right?'” Something I thought also fit Newt’s character well, and which I surprisingly liked, was how Newt doesn’t like picking sides. He sees the gray in everyone and knows that even though Grindelwald should not come to power, the Ministry should not necessarily be the one to defeat him. Young Newt was also so cute and looked exactly like older Newt ahhhh I love him!
Leta Lestrange was introduced in this movie, and I actually love her character! She was the Slytherin we all deserved to see. What I don’t understand, though, is why her father sent her to America from France, and then she somehow, for some reason, got to Scotland to go to Hogwarts when she was eleven. If she was in America, why not go to Ilvermorny? Now we might never know, since she died at the end of the movie, which I also don’t understand. She was such a great character, but they killed her off after only one movie? What was the point of that? She had such potential for playing a bigger part in the following movies, seeing as she didn’t do much in this one. The only reason Leta seemed to be in the movie was to create drama with the whole Theseus-Leta-Newt-Tina love square and to prove that Corvus Lestrange is, indeed, dead. Which leads to another character who I found very unnecessary, Yusuf Kama. He didn’t really do anything the whole movie besides explain his, Leta’s and Corvus’ story because he believed Credence was Corvus; but because Leta proved him wrong, pretty much all that information is pointless, and confused the audience. Who did he make an Unbreakable Vow with? And where did he go after he left Nicolas Flamel’s? Another unecessary character was Nagini. She was really just an onlooker during all the action, and the only information we got from her was that she was on the good side and that her and Credence had something going on. I do hope she’ll have a bigger part later on.
The big reveal at the end of the movie was that Credence is actually Aurelius Dumbledore. Now, we’ve never heard this name in the history of Harry Potter or anything about another Dumbledore child. I really hope J.K. Rowling didn’t just throw this in for dramatic effect and does actually have a good plan, backstory, and explanation for this character. I looked him up as soon as I got home from the movie, and my personal favourite theory is this: in the books, Albus was mentioned to have an aunt. In the credits of The Crimes of Grindelwald, there is a cast member listed as Credence’s aunt. The theory states that one of Albus, Aberforth, Ariana’s parents had another child with someone else and passed it off to the aunt so as not to tarnish the Dumbledore name. The aunt, in turn, brought the child to America for unknown reasons. I guess we’ll find out what really happened in the next movie, which is ANOTHER TWO YEARS AWAY! (And it’s so much worse than last time because everyone knew Jacob would get his memories back, but there are so many more unanswered questions in this movie.)
Next, the music is absolutely beautiful. I’ve become more and more entranced with movie soundtracks over the past couple years, and the Harry Potter and Fantastic Beasts ones are by far my favourites. Like the first movie, we hear a small excerpt of Hedwig’s Theme for the Warner Brothers logo, and the the Fantastic Beasts theme during the movie title. Hedwig’s Theme also plays when you get the first glimpse of Hogwarts, which is perfectly nostalgic. Throughout the film, you can hear tidbits of pieces from the first movie intertwined with new pieces, which is very creative and exciting to hear. I love how Newt Says Goodbye to Tina, from the soundtrack of the first movie, is incorporated into the scenes whenever Tina is mentioned, as well as when Newt is tracking her and during the Salamander Eyes scene.
Finally, the plot. One thing I noticed during the whole movie was the darkness. In the first movie, the music was mostly cheerful and upbeat, Newt wore a peacock blue coat and his Hufflepuff scarf during some parts, Queenie wore lots of pink, even Tina wore blue sometimes, and the scenery was also generally bright. In this movie, though, the music is more suspenseful, the lighting is darker, the costumes are less colourful (Newt’s blue coat is replaced with a gray one, I’m sad), and even Queenie’s hair is less curly. As J.K. Rowling said, the tone of this movie is much darker.
I found the opening scene of the movie very confusing. How did Grindelwald escape his cell to make Polyjuice potion and become Abernathy? We also had no idea what the blood pact vial is until later in the movie, and who was the lizard and where did Grindelwald get it? I’m guessing it would be simple enough to use a switching spell on Grindelwald and Abernathy’s tongues. The whole scene just happened so fast with little to no explanation, and was hard to keep up with.
We got to see Newt’s house in this movie, where he had so much space for all his beasts and it looked like his suitcase but in house form, and it was crazy! I am glad we got to meet at least a couple new beasts in this movie (like the kelpie and zouwu). Newt also hired someone to help with his beasts, unless he always had someone to help and we just didn’t see her in the last movie because it was set in New York. She quite obviously liked Newt, but I mean, who doesn’t? He’s my soulmate.
During the first half of the movie, Newt was obsessing over seeing Tina again, and was disappointed when he realized she didn’t come with Queenie and Jacob. On his way to Paris with Jacob, he was overthinking what he would say to her when he sees her, and Jacob tried to help him. Newt was so adorably and obviously in love with Tina the whole movie. The Salamander Eyes scene was SO CUTE! “I’m not supposed to say,” gets me every time. I love how the relationship between Newt and Tina is slowly building, instead of happening all at once. It fits their characters perfectly, especially Newt’s, and is different than what happens in most movies these days. It shows that the plot isn’t all about romance. The ‘they’re going to kiss!’ feeling was present during this scene as it was at the end of the first movie during the boat scene, but of course they got interrupted. I personally think (and hope) that Tina will make the first move.
I’m sure all of you noticed that Professor Minerva McGonagall was teaching at Hogwarts both at the time the movie took place (1927) and when Newt and Leta were attending (1910 – 1913). This should have been impossible since the McGonagall we know and love started working there in 1956. There are several theories on this, and I honestly don’t know what to think. I certainly believe J.K. Rowling put her in for a reason, though, because she would not have been able to overlook it. It could not have been an ancestor of McGonagall, since that was her father’s name, and he was a Muggle. It could have been an aunt on her father’s side who was previously unknown to us, but her distinct snappish personality was clear, and I personally think it’s the McGonagall from the Harry Potter series. The only question is, how? There is another theory that McGonagall was using time travel and her and Dumbledore had a secret past of working together for some important reason. This is a little far-fetched, but I truly don’t think J.K. Rowling would have included Professor McGonagall without an explanation.
One last thing: why have we never heard of Grindelwald’s different coloured eyes before? There was no mention of it in the books, and the young and old Grindelwald in the Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows movies both had two blue eyes. There must be a new plot twist it connects to since the Harry Potter movies, and I’m excited to find out what it is.
To sum up my review, here are some unanswered (for now) questions I’m sure everyone has after seeing this movie. Where is all this new kind of magic coming from and what exactly is it (referring to all the non-verbal spells and the magic Newt used to track Tina)? When and how did Abernathy start working for Grindelwald? What happened to Queenie during the year to make her act so differently? How did Newt just Apparate to the exact spot Dumbledore was standing when he was chasing after Dumbledore and Dumbledore Disapparated first? Why are all the Hallows included in the title but only the Elder Wand appeared in the film? What happened between Newt and Theseus to make their relationship so complicated? Why did Grindelwald and Dumbledore make the blood pact? How are there baby nifflers if the original niffler is male? What exactly was the point of including Leta Lestrange, Nagini, and Yusuf Kama in this movie? We still don’t know the whole story of Newt getting expelled from Hogwarts? How was Minerva McGonagall teaching at Hogwarts before she was born? WHO IS AURELIUS DUMBLEDORE?
Those were my thoughts on The Crimes of Grindelwald, and I would love to hear yours in the comments! The movie itself was a little hard to keep up with and confusing, and there were several details that kind of undermine what we already know about the Harry Potter universe, so I had to give it less than five stars. If, however, J.K. Rowling provides reasonable answers and explications for these inconsistencies either in an interview, on social media, or in the next movie, I will gladly up my rating. Overall, I did love the movie despite its flaws. The characters, music, and filming were all spectacular, and left me with a feeling of awe.