Warning: This review is full of spoilers. Read at your own risk.
“The Crimes of Grindelwald,” the second movie in the “Fantastic Beasts” series written by J.K. Rowling, came out on Nov. 16.
This film mainly follows the story of Credence, the Obscurial from the first movie who we thought was dead. He is traveling through Paris, trying to figure out who his birth parents are and who he is. He’s believed to be the youngest son of the Lestrange family, and he’s also incredibly dangerous because of his Obscurus, so much of the Wizarding World is trying to track him down. Grindelwald, Dumbledore, Newt, Tina and the Ministry of Magic are all trying to find him, each trying to get to him before the others. There are many points of view being told throughout the movie and many cases of mistaken identity. Unsurprisingly, it gets confusing.
“The Crimes of Grindelwald” is the second movie in a series of five. Because of this, the movie feels a lot like it is setting things up for the next movie. It lacks a main conflict and feels more like filler than a strong, individual plot. It makes me think this series would have worked better had a book been released before it, and was then adapted into movies.
This is my main issue with the movie, and “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” had the same problem. The movies are designed to make you watch them more than once. You aren’t given enough of the plot to understand what is happening and are left confused and out of the loop until a crucial piece of information is revealed later on. Because of this, the first half of the movie won’t make much sense unless you watch the movie a second time, knowing the information you learned from your first viewing.
The movie builds to the point where you think it will be revealed that Credence actually is the lost son named Corvus Lestrange. But then it turns out he isn’t, which almost collapses half the plot, because we still don’t know who Credence actually is.
And then there’s the ending. I would have accepted this movie and been relatively happy with it if it weren’t for the bombshell Rowling dropped at the end of it. Grindelwald tells Credence he will return his birth name to him, making it seem as though he’ll ignore the last 10 minutes of the movie and call Credence Corvus Lestrange. But then, in a twist, he calls him Aurelius Dumbledore.
You can tell it’s a confusing ending because of the number of fan theories trying to explain what exactly this means. Albus Dumbledore is one of three siblings. He has a brother, Aberforth, and a sister, Ariana, who died young from an Obscurus. One theory is that Grindelwald is lying and pretending Credence is Ariana, lying about the gender of the third Dumbledore child. But all kinds of theories exist, from Aurelius being a fourth, previously unmentioned child to him somehow being Ariana’s son. There’s a bit of evidence that Credence could be a Dumbledore, due to his finding a Phoenix, but there’s nothing in the movie that could prove any theory for sure.
I’m tired of Rowling throwing in bogus plots and surprise children. The end of this movie just makes me think of the horrible plotline of Voldemort’s child in “The Cursed Child.” I hope she manages to save the series in the next movie with an acceptable explanation. While she’s at it, I hope Dumbledore is actually gay in the next movie. His relationship with Grindelwald is shown multiple times throughout the movie but is only vaguely hinted at being anything more than friendship, making his sexuality seem like unnecessary queerbaiting at this point.
All of Rowling’s messy details removed, the movie was decent. The characterization was the best part of it. The depiction of people beginning to take sides in preparation for the war, as well as what sides various characters ended up choosing, felt true to those characters and the plot. It was done really well. The added romance was adorable, and certain scenes laced throughout had me laughing in my seat.
Additionally, the film briefly brings us back to Hogwarts, and we get to see a lot of characters from the original series that we know and love, like Dumbledore, Minerva McGonagall and Nicolas Flamel. The film did really nicely with small, intricate details. My favorite was the fact that the Hogwarts uniforms were slightly different, indicating that they have changed with time. It is small details like that, things viewers would not have thought of, that make the movie acceptable.
Similarly, small, seemingly insignificant details carried themselves through the movie and were revealed to be important later on. This was one of the things Rowling was best at in the original “Harry Potter” series, and it was refreshing to see it in action again.
Overall, the movie was decent, but I doubt the series will make it to its conclusion without completely falling apart.
Courtney Gavitt is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.