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The Crimes of Grindelwald Review

January 8, 2019

Saying that I’m a Harry Potter fan is an understatement. I’m obviously not the biggest fan in the world, but I consider myself to be pretty knowledgeable about the series. The first time I read the series I was in second grade, and ever since then I’ve always turned to the series as a source of comfort. I adore the series, except for the book “The Tales of Beedle the Bard”, a book of separate stories that take place in the Wizarding World. I read it in third grade and then had nightmares for a solid month. I’ve taken a multitude of quizzes to affirm my house identity, and I purposefully arranged my letter jacket to match my house colors. Luckily for me, Fruita Monument’s main color is blue which coincided perfectly with my Ravenclaw identity.

I was too young to see the Harry Potter movies when they originally came to theaters, so when I found out that a new series of movies were being released I was ecstatic. I watched the first movie of this new series, titled “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them”, the weekend it came out in November 2016. I immediately fell in love with it. Everyone I knew who watched it liked it. All of the characters are lovable, just like the many featured creatures.

When I learned of the sequel, I was equally as excited. At first, I was wary of the title, “The Crimes of Grindelwald”. I could tell by the title that the movie would be less based around the creatures like the last movie was, and more based around the problems with the antagonist, Gellert Grindelwald. In the Harry Potter books, Grindelwald was the only wizard who had the same level of power as the most powerful wizard in the world, Albus Dumbledore. Although I went into the movie expecting fewer creatures, I still was hoping for a good amount of magical creature content.

Just like the last movie, Eddie Redmayne does a fantastic job at playing Newt Scamander, a magical zoologist. Newt’s character is awkward and quirky, but still sweet and caring towards his creatures. He’s very passionate about his animals and that continues to shine through this movie. The other show-stopping character is Jacob Kowalski, played by Dan Fogler. Jacob is a no-maj, or a muggle, meaning he has no magical abilities. Even though he isn’t magical like Newt, they’re still great friends. Jacob’s character is lovable in both movies as the viewer gets to watch as he sees the Wizarding World for the first time.

The creatures in this movie are entertaining as well. The niffler was a favorite from the last movie, and the baby nifflers definitely steal the show this time too. Nifflers are creatures that search out and steal gold, silver, or anything shiny. They’re adorable little thieves that tend to hinder Newt more than help him throughout the movie. The zouwo is a beast that’s new to the film. It’s a giant, elephant-sized flying cat that, in my opinion, somewhat resembles a Chinese dragon. In the movie, it’s a creature that was kept in brutal captivity at a circus that was set free. The beast tried to attack Newt, but in typical Newt fashion, he subdued it by using a cat toy to lead it into his briefcase that doubles as a home for even his largest of creatures.

I think that’s enough about the magical creatures, although I could definitely continue. Now onto the main part of the article, my opinion about the rest of the film. Caution: spoilers ahead.

In all honesty, it was on the better side of okay. It was good, but a let down in comparison to the first movie. There were plot abysses. The characters of some people seemed wildly inconsistent.

Firstly, the drama between Queenie Goldstein, an American witch, and Jacob Kowalski was unneeded and seemed a little forced. Sure, Queenie may be a little loopy at times but overall she’s harmless. Her putting a love spell on Jacob to force him into marriage was uncharacteristic. When Newt removed the love spell, Jacob’s reaction was a little too dramatic. Jacob’s a sweet guy, and calling Queenie crazy was contradictory to his typical demeanor. The angst between Newt Scamander and Tina Goldstein, another American witch who’s the older sister of Queenie, was also unneeded. The end of the last movie hinted at a possible future romance between the two, but this movie showed nothing between the two. There wasn’t really even a good explanation to why the two weren’t a couple.

A character that was consistent was Albus Dumbledore, played by Jude Law. This isn’t the Dumbledore from the Harry Potter series, who’s the headmaster of Hogwarts and has a long white beard. This is a young Dumbledore, who’s merely a Hogwarts teacher. His character is consistent with the way older Dumbledore acts in the books. By that I mean sending others out to do his dirty work. In the books, he sent Harry out to do everything and in these movies he’s using Newt to do everything. Honestly, I’m not a huge fan of Dumbledore.

The main issue that I have with the movie is that I think it spends too much time on Grindelwald, the antagonist. I know that the movie is named for him, but he shouldn’t be the focus of attention. For organizing a secret group, he was awfully public about it. The climax of the movie, the big confrontational scene between the group of Aurors and Grindelwald, was not as dramatic as it was made out to be. Almost nothing actually happened. All the damage Grindelwald caused was contained by the Aurors, all of followers of Grindelwald, including Grindelwald himself, escaped, and the Aurors lost Credence.

Credence was a prominent figure in the last film. He’s an orphaned boy, played by Ezra Miller, who is also an obscurus. An obscurus is a dark manifestation of magic that happens when a young wizard is forced to repress their magical abilities. The magic ends up turning the child into basically a dark devouring cloud of magic intent on destroying anything in its path. Credence’s identity as the obscurus was revealed at the end of the last film, and this film features him trying to find his family. But, Grindelwald is the one who set him on the path to his parents. An obscurus contains a ridiculous amount of power, so Grindelwald tries to harness it for himself. The path Grindelwald sends Credence on leads to a dead end. Literally. Credence finds that his parents had died many years ago and he has no family. This eventually leads him to join Grindelwald, the only person he has left, in conquest for the Wizarding World.

Newt, Tina, Jacob, and the rest of the Aurors are completely powerless at the end of the movie, losing everything they had tried so hard to get.

The end of the movie was particularly confusing. Credence is at the house of Grindelwald when Grindelwald reveals shocking news. Credence is actually the long lost brother of Albus Dumbledore, and is the only one with enough power to defeat him.

This definitely came as a shock to me. From what the books tell, Albus Dumbledore only has two siblings, one of which is a bartender and the other one has been dead for a long time. I was very confused. Another Dumbledore? That goes against the books. I was left with many questions as to how this would complicate things further. But since the end is this very realization, it must be the writer’s intent to leave the viewer in suspense.

So “The Crimes of Grindelwald” was definitely a let down to the first movie. In fact, it had the lowest box office premiere of any Harry Potter movie. It wasn’t terrible, but it was confusing and too much was trying to happen so none of the important plotlines got the attention they needed. But, this movie series is said to be around five movies long, so there’s the possibility that the other movies will redeem it.

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