Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald

In this movie, one year has passed since the events of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. The main plot follows Newt Scamander working with Albus Dumbledore to take down Gellert Grindelwald, who escaped custody from Magical Congress of the United States of America while being transferred back to London.

The following article contains spoilers from this point on.

In terms of the wizarding world, (funny how almost anything with a movie series seems to need a cinematic universe since the MCU) I have watched all of the Harry Potter movies and the first Fantastic Beasts movie. I never read any of the books. Most of the time, my attitude is why read the book when the film is just going to come out. That is all I have to say with that. I wish to get that out of the way and give a tidbit about myself and my attitude about books that are made into movies.

I am aware that the book the movie is based on is on several pages and only shows the creatures in the Harry Potter World.  Let this show how much time I take to read books.

The movie was great visually. Most of the magic happening around the area whenever a spell was cast, and the effects or reaction was fun to watch. The only scene that can come to mind is when Jacob was put into an enchantment spell by Queenie near the beginning. I seemed to like that a lot of some odd reason. Also, the visual on the creatures looked great. Even though they weren’t featured as much as I would have liked, as well as there aren’t many new creatures introduced in this movie. I didn’t get the Roaring 20’s feel that I had with the first film. There were times that I had forgotten that the movie was taking place in the 1920s as it somehow started to feel more modern than from the past.

Newt is back and played by Eddie Redmayne. I liked this character, and I couldn’t figure out why until Dumbledore, played great by Jude Law, explains Newt only wants to do what’s right. Something about that and the way Eddie moves and act as Newt makes me feel why I do like this character. As I also said, I liked Jude Law as Dumbledore, a younger version of him. I can’t really offer any expiation other than it just works for me. Also, we meet Newt’s older brother Theseus Scamander. He is an Auror, agents that pursue and apprehend Dark wizards. He pushed his brother Newt to join in the fight, but Newt wanted to stay neutral. I did like that they were opposite in trying understanding each other and on opposite sides, but did seem to care for each other and Theseus would look out of Newt, even if it meant having to bring him down.

We get to see Grindelwald more this time versus the cameo appearance of him in the last movie. Johnny Depp plays him, and I think that he does a great job. The calm, but a dangerous collective that he seemed to have, combined with the fact that not only was he a powerful wizard, but also a “silver-tongued devil” made him a different type of threat for that time. Grindelwald believes in wizard superiority and wants to rid the world of all non-magic users. I don’t even think that he was yet that powerful compared to Lord Voldemort, but got or can get others to do the work for his type of evil with a surprise spell or two.

Johnny Depp has had a lot of bad press and things revealed about him that are unfortunate.  While what he has done is inexcusable,  I did like the performance.  I try to separate the Art from the Artist when I observe something, even when the news surrounding the actor/artist isn’t good.  But there are limits for me.

Queenie and Jacob are back, though I thought that the “I only had good memories” after it was believed that Jacob’s memories were erased at the end of the first movie was a pretty weak way to bring him back. Leta LeStrange was back, which was odd because I don’t remember her being in the first movie. Tina, Queenie’s sister, is back as well, looking for Credence Barebone, who in the first movie I thought was killed, but I guess he survived from the first film. Now, maybe I just didn’t pay attention to the original movie. That is detail I feel that either; one, needed to rewatch the first movie again, or two, how much those characters and their stories were unmemorable to me from the first film. Tina and Newt might have had a romance, but broke it off when the papers said Newt was engaged to LeStrange. But instead, LeStrange was engaged to Newt’s brother Theseus. A mistake that I couldn’t really understand how someone made that.

It’s not like Newt or Theseus looked alike or even had similar names.  I also wonder why the paper or they didn’t even attempt to correct it.

Midway through the movie, Queenie after having a fight with Jacob about getting married joins up with Grindelwald while looking for her sister. I didn’t understand why she does this other than to solidify that “silver tongue” I mentioned earlier about Grindelwald. Her following him makes no sense since she seemed to be still in love with Jacob and Grindelwald wants to eliminate all Nomag (A term that appeared forgotten in this movie) Also Jacob felt more like a presence than a character in the last film. This story might have been better served in the third movie and told better rather than put in this movie.

The rest of the story was fair. The story seems to try to set up twists that either didn’t go anywhere or twists that didn’t make sense for the here and now. Credence, who felt out of control in the first movie, feels calmer but more determined to find out who he is. It kind of feels dishonest to me instead of an antagonist. Yusuf, a new wizard, introduced as a wizard out to kill Credence due to an unbreakable vow due to him being the last of the Lestrange family. Credence was believed to be LeStranges half brother for most of the movie until it was revealed by LeStrange that he wasn’t. It wasn’t a bad story, but felt like a letdown and gave more explanation than they needed to provide more to the audience.

Another thing that struck me as odd is the lack of beasts in a movie called Fantastic Beasts. The Niffler does make a return appearance as does Pickett, the Bowtruckle that Newt had an attachment to and that was about it. And well besides the Zouwu, a magical creature that is fast and capable of traveling 1,000 miles a day. Instead, the film seems to want to retcon itself into the Harry Potter series. We do have a brief appearance of the creatures at the beginning of the movie. But that’s really about it. The film introduces us to the human form of Nagini, the human/snake that served as a holocrux for Lord Voldemort. She can change freely between human and snake in this movie, but in the Harry Potter films, she is a snake for good. We also get glimpses of young Dumbledore, McGonagall, and the Hogwarts school in its early days. I’ll give some credit that I did enjoy the introduction of Nicolas Flamel, the 600-year-old alchemist that was mentioned in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone appearance. It felt that the movie was more concerned about setting up the next film instead of giving us an excellent current story.

I’d really like a baby Nifler.  They are too cute.

I think that the hardest thing for me to comprehend is the twist at the end of the movie. After Credence escapes with Grindelwald, Grindelwald reveals that Credence is Aurelius Dumbledore, Albus’ brother. I’m not upset about the ending, but I’m kind of confused. I went to the Harry Potter Wiki to see if there was anything that I may have missed. I couldn’t find anything on this character. I’m not sure if he is a redirect or not for the third film, because we do see a phoenix siding with Aurelius with the statement of “a Pheonix will always come to a Dumbledore in their time of need.” It will be interesting to see where it goes, but I hope that it can keep up with its audience. As of the time that I was putting up this blog on Nov 29, 2018, the film has grossed $118 million domestically and a budget of $200 million. It looks like this film is going to be carried internationally to have any legs.

The Cast is just about the only thing right now holding the movie together.  The story needs to improve or I can’t see it getting past the third movie.  Unless the international audience can keep it going.

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