The Crimes of Fantastic Beasts: Crimes of Grindelwald

by Isabel Shic

After the Harry Potter series came to an end, we mourned the closing of Hogwarts and the wonderfully built Harry Potter universe. However, in 2016, we were introduced to Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne) and a different perspective of the magical world with the opening of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. This movie generated excitement from the public. Newt is an atypical heroic figure—not a warrior, nor a pretentious superhero, but a gentle zoologist. We smiled at his interactions with creatures varying in size and shape and laughed at his moments with supporting characters Jacob Kowalski (Dan Fogler), Tina Goldstein (Katherine Waterston) and Queenie Goldstein (Alison Sudol). Although fans waited eagerly for the movie’s sequel, Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald ended up disappointing viewers.

The movie opens up in a dark cell. In the cell, Gellert Grindelwald (Johnny Depp) is chained to a chair. We learn that he is being transferred to London, possibly to Azkaban. Grindelwald escapes. After this scene, we witness another escape, this time made by Nagini (Claudia Kim) in human form and Credence (Ezra Miller) from a circus tent. We jump forwards in time to where Newt runs into his brother, Theseus (Callum Turner), and his old classmate, Leta Lestrange (Zoë Kravitz), at the Ministry of Magic. Although Newt is there to regain travel rights, the Ministry makes a deal with him: in order to regain his travel rights, Newt has to assist Theseus in finding Credence. Newt refuses, refraining from choosing a side. Dumbledore convinces Newt instead. The rest of the movie follows Newt, his unexpected reunion with Jacob and Queenie, his awkward reunion with Tina, and their encounters with Grindelwald.

Let’s begin with what the movie did well. For starters, the special effects were thoroughly convincing, bringing Newt’s creatures to life and enhancing scenes. The movie pulled in Dumbledore and McGonagall, characters loved and adored by the Harry Potter fandom. New characters like Theseus Scamander, Leta Lestrange, and Nagini were added. We were able to experience Hogwarts once again.

The film had many flaws. Compared to its prequel, the movie lacked “fun” and originality. The antagonist, Gellert Grindelwald, is a skillful dark arts wizard who will be difficult to defeat–similar to Voldemort in the Harry Potter series. And although seeing McGonagall was exciting, the movie takes place in 1927. McGonagall was born eight years later and did not begin teaching at Hogwarts until 1996. Knowing this, having McGonagall in the movie is either a mistake or fan service.

The plot was complicated and messy, not only boring viewers, but leaving them confused.  I asked friends what they remembered from the movie and got similar responses: “Uh…I don’t remember much,” they said.

For a series that began well, let us hope that the third Fantastic Beasts movie will answer our questions. JK Rowling promised in a recent tweet, “Answers will be given,” she said, leaving us with our fingers crossed.

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