Movie Review: Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald

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Alden Wiygul, Staff Writer

*Warning: Review contains spoilers*

The long-awaited part two of the new series of movies serving as a prequel to the beloved “Harry Potter” movies came out Nov 16. While not receiving a high score on Rotten Tomatoes, “Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald” is not fundamentally a bad movie. It is just riddled with plot holes that are glaringly obvious to anyone that has read the Harry Potter books.

The Fantastic Beasts movies are a newer concept based on a protagonist that had only appeared in the “Harry Potter” universe as a man that wrote a textbook about beasts. His grandson is briefly mentioned having married a more prominent character, Luna Lovegood, but that is as far as Newt Scamander’s reach into the popular past series goes.  

This causes J.K Rowling and the other writers on Fantastic Beasts to pull a lot from characters directly linked with Harry Potter to keep the interest in these new movies as big as the last ones. Doing this, however, is what really causes all of the series main issues. The real strength is their newer characters and plotlines, the older characters often cause gaping plot holes and confusion.

One of the biggest confusions involving re-usage of the older characters is the reappearance of Voldemort’s snake, Nagini. In the “Harry Potter” series, she is nothing more than a snake that Voldemort keeps as a pet and uses for a Horcrux. “The Crimes of Grindelwald,” however, reveals that she used to be human. Not just any human, but a human firmly not on the dark wizard’s side. This makes no sense, and as of now, adds absolutely nothing to the plot.

In a sad example of J.K. Rowling not even caring about her own timeline, she wrote in Minerva McGonagall as a teacher already at Hogwarts. This obvious fan service may please some at first, until they realize that McGonagall was born 8 years after the events of the movie. Dumbledore is also always said to have been the Transfiguration professor before this movie when they made him the Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher to make room for the mishandled McGonagall cameo.

There were many other small plot holes, but the biggest of them all is the end plot twist with another new main character, Credence Barebone. Credence is revealed to be Albus Dumbledore’s brother by Grindelwald. J.K. Rowling herself has clarified that, unfortunately, he was not lying. Hopefully, this is just another thing that Rowling is willing to change because if it’s true, it does not make sense. Dumbledore’s father is imprisoned in 1890 and his mother was killed in 1899. That means the youngest that Credence could possibly be is 28 when it is very clear that in the first Fantastic Beasts he is around 18.

Despite all this, the graphics in “The Crimes of Grindelwald” were amazing, as they must be for a film with such a big budget and built-in following. The new magical creatures were stunning, and the plot lines were not overly bad despite Queenie’s confusing blunder into the dark side.

One of the main plot lines about the Lestranges, however illogical because of the two Lestranges already established in the future, was clever and made Leta an interesting character. The use of her memories to show Newt’s past at Hogwarts was good for both of their character development.

Grindelwald reflecting the horrible leaders involved in WWII, while showing the effects of the war made for chilling imagery that gave more depth and darkness to his character. They definitely succeeded in establishing him as a more dangerously real dark lord than Voldemort ever was.

If the movie series would stop trying to fanservice with the characters from “Harry Potter” and focus more on the newer characters, it would actually be very good. The old characters are fun to see, and it is exciting to get more development from them. It just turns the movie into a mess trying to cram all of them in there while attempting to keep all the facts straight. This difficulty is probably why J.K. Rowling has given up staying true to her own facts. Storylines around the actual protagonist Newt Scamander would make the series fresh and would take it out of its gigantic “Harry Potter” shadow.


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