The Crimes of Grindelwald – Review (Spoiler Free)


Nicholas Silva, Layout Editor

The second installment in the Fantastic Beasts saga would appear to be similar to “The Last Jedi” of Star Wars -overall it is a good movie but a few small details divide fans in a tumultuous debate. Having debuted just ahead of Thanksgiving, the movie has received a 38% on Rotten Tomatoes, however the fan rating is far higher at 63%, an occurrence that is common in more nerd-centered blockbusters such as this.

“Crimes of Grindelwald” picks up six months after the flagship entry, 2016’s  “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them”, and features a fiendish escape plot from the dark and twisted Gellert Grindelwald, portrayed by Johnny Depp -but more on that later.

The film soon jumps another three months to find Newt Scamander tending to business at the Ministry of Magic. It is revealed -as had been hinted in the previous movie’s conclusion- that the Obscurus Credence Barebone is alive and well, and is thought to be part of Grindelwald’s plan.

Overall, while the introduction is a little hard to see due to many dark and muted colors, it achieves its goal of creating suspense and a sense of urgency.

Many critics complained that, for a movie under the Fantastic Beasts banner, there were not a lot of beasts to be seen on screen. While this may be true, those that were seen were perfectly adorable, horrifying, and amazing in their own regards, and fulfilled their purpose to an extent beyond what can be expected. There are baby nifflers, and the original niffler makes several appearances, displaying very helpful behaviour, perhaps trying to make up for the trouble raised in the prior movie. There is also the introduction of the Zouwu, a creature resembling a furry, cat-like Chinese New Year dragon. The Zouwu is very powerful, and also has the playful nature of a house cat, making for some interesting and hilarious screen time.

Credence Barebone, mentioned earlier, appears as a key component of the movie’s trajectory. Similar to his appearance in the first movie, Credence is neither bad nor good, he is just trying to figure out who he is, and what the magic inside him is. Most of the movie revolves around the main characters -bad and good- trying to find him, and convince him to join their cause or die. All he wants is to find out who his parents are, and what his place is in the magical world. This makes him vulnerable once more to Grindelwald’s manipulation, and leads to one of the most jaw dropping and controversial reveals in the film, but it would ruin the fun to state it here…

The characters maintained much of their traits from the first Fantastic Beasts, but there are some clear changes. These changes are not caused by and fault on the part of J.K. Rowling or the director, in fact they feel natural and human, character evolution that is rarely seen in most movies these days.

There is tension between Newt and Tina Goldstein caused by media misinformation, and there is tension between Queenie Goldstein and Jacob Kowalski. The later of the two want to get married, but cannot due to laws. This tension will escalate, and eventually lead to the most groundbreaking and innovative concept in the entire Harry Potter universe!

With Harry Potter in mind, this movie does mildly suffer from an overcramming of different call backs to the original films and movies, however not all of them are bad, and most actually do help the movie. The best call back was the first onscreen appearance of Nicolas Flamel, a character who had an important background role in “The Sorcerer’s’ Stone”. This character offers a couple of good comedic breaks in the overall more serious movie, and is a great help in the end.

“The Crimes of Grindelwald” also introduced Leta Lestrange -Newt’s Hogwarts classmate and love interest previously seen in a magical photograph in his zoo-like case. Leta offers some interesting insight into the Lestrange family, and also is very impactful on the overall plot.

However, for all of the good that the movie brought, there are some criticisms. Both of the largest thorns in the movie’s side stem from Percival Graves -Grindelwald’s former disguise. Grindelwald is of course played by Johnny Depp, who has come under criticism for allegations of physical and emotional abuse towards ex-wife Amber Heard, amongst other issues. Many fans have found fault with the decision. Also, the film introduced Grimmson, a sort of magical hitman used by the Ministry, and it really feels like J.K. Rowling was just trying to fill in the gap left by Graves, a character which many fans really liked. For these reasons many fans wished that actor Colin Farrell would be recast to portray Grindelwald in disguise, but from a storytelling perspective it makes sense not to -that cover was blown after all.

One final criticism, aside from Credence’s family ties, was the inclusion of Professor Minerva McGonagall. According to some sources, she was born in 1935, eight years before the movie takes place. Also, she appears in flashbacks from Newt’s childhood, bringing the date back several more years before her birth. However, as of now, her information on Pottermore only indicates her birthday as October 4th -an odd occurrence since almost every other character has the year of their birth associated with them on Pottermore. Perhaps this really was a slip up, and J.K. Rowling has worked to cover it up. Regardless, it is her universe, so however much it may annoy fans, she can do whatever she wants.

So, overall, “Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald” was a very good movie. While the audience did not witness to many of the crimes indicated in the title, this movie served as an excellent stepping stone in the franchise, tying the lighthearted nature of its predecessor in with the serious theme going into full steam. Oh, and one more thing, Fantastic Beasts is no longer set to be a trilogy, there are three more movies planned -at the very least!