“Crimes of Grindelwald:” Not as Good as Harry Potter, But Still Magical

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By: Laura Bowen, bownla@mnstate.edu

As a Harry Potter fanatic, or Potterhead, I was skeptical about anything pertaining to J.K. Rowling’s universe that was not Harry Potter. When the first “Fantastic Beasts” came out many moons ago (November 2016), I realized that I was wrong. It was a little heartbreaking not to be united with Harry Potter and the gang, but I remember being swept away by Newt Scamander. When Grindelwald showed up at the very end, I was ready for the sequel. This week, the sequel revealed itself.

I knew nothing about the sequal, other than Grindelwald was in it. “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them: Crimes of Grindelwald” was directed by David Yates. Yates directed the last four movies in the “Harry Potter” series. J.K. Rowling wrote it. The cast includes Eddie Redmayne as Newt Scamander, Johnny Depp as Gellert Grindelwald and Jude Law as Dumbledore. I will not give even a basic plot because #ProtectTheSecret.

First and foremost, I just have to say that I loved “Crimes.” I did not love it because it was life-changing. I did not love it because it was moving. I did not love it because it was particularly excellent. I loved it because I love Rowling’s magical universe. The same magic that surrounded the books had also surrounded the movies, and I could see that magic in this new arc.

 

I could go on and on about the magic, but here are some aspects of the film that truly captivated me. First off, we see a young Dumbledore and Minerva McGonagall, as well as a not-so-young Nicholas Flamel. Then there was the Hogwarts castle scene. When I saw the castle and heard the theme music from “Harry Potter,” I was dazzled. I was excited. I was in love. There were also some really intense and dark scenes involving WWII and what looked like the Titanic. Overall, it was not the light and fluffy movie that came before it.
While I really loved the sequel, I know many people did not. When it was announced that Nagini (one of Voldemort’s horcruxes and his pet) was actually an Asian animagus, people were furious because there is so little representation on the silver screen of Asian American actors, and her being cast as an Asian woman playing an almost subservient character was too much for a lot of people. On top of that, Nagini played such a minor role and she portrayed a character that reflected the idea of “The Exotic Other.”

Many people were looking forward to seeing how Dumbledore’s love for Grindelwald unfolded. They were expecting to see a prominent figure, who was also LGBT, show gay pride. That did not happen at all. Maybe, hopefully, it will happen in the future “Fantastic Beasts” movies—as there will be five total.

Another thing I saw that people didn’t like was that there was so much obvious “setting up shop” happening. While I didn’t mind, it also felt like the movie was pushing too much information at me. In “Harry Potter,” it was all spread out—we learned a little bit of information at a time. I suspect that there is going to be a lot of big stuff happening, which is why there was so much set-up.

My least favorite part of the movie was the dialogue. I felt that it was pretty choppy a lot of the time. However, the characters themselves truly made up for it. I can’t really say that I have many complaints about “The Crimes of Grindelwald,” as I am much too excited to be immersed back in Rowling’s universe.

So, while there was a lot of information being thrown at the audience, and this movie has gotten a lot of negative reviews, I would give this movie 7/10 because it was merely fulfilling. If you are looking for something to satisfy your craving for more “Harry Potter” magic, this will definitely do it for you. If you are looking for a movie that was just as extraordinary as the “Harry Potter” movies, well, you are not going to find it here.

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