WARNING: Do not continue reading if you haven’t seen The Crimes of Grindelwald but do check out our spoiler-free review to find out what we think about it without giving anything away. This post is about a deductive dive into the movie, its characters, plot twists and possible future developments. Join me in going full-on Quibbler on this.
One of the main things I critcized about Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them was the carefree use of wandless and often highly advanced magic. In this movie, however, the voiceless hexes and hand-signed spells didn’t piss me off as much. Why? Because I got used to them and because the end product was absolutely stunning. Grindelwald’s breathtaking, adrenaline-inducing break-out of his transport to Europe is a truly beautiful visualization of what magic can look like. Such expertise, many wow. And it introduces Grindelwald as a ruthless OP – RIP, Antonio.
And yet, there is a bothersome amount of wandless apparition and skin-changing without Poly Juice potion that makes me twitch every time. But on the bright side, the center for everything magical in France, the French Ministry of Magic, is très chic. And its UK-sibling, the retro version of the British Ministry, definitely deserves some admiration too – in no small measure to the hard-working house-elves and enchanted cleaning robots. You know darn well I searched the screen for owl excrements when they swooshed by and that place was CLEAN.
What were you talking about, Arthur?!
Jude Law as hot Dumbledore is not just charming the students during his DADA classes
behaving absurdly similar to Remus Lupin. Only few can resist to mirror his smile when his eyes knowingly twinkle at you. Additionally, he conducts a certain Aslan-like calmness and Galadriel-esque, mysterious knowledge of the future which are familiar characteristics of the robe-wearing, long-bearded Dumbledore from the Harry Potter series. And he clearly demonstrates his reluctance to follow or even cooperate with anything the ministry is doing. There are two moments in the movie that make this version a sucessful portrayal of the greatest wizard of all time: the Mirror of Erised showing his longing for Grindelwald AND his literal acknowledgement of his love for Gellert by saying “We were more than brothers.” There is simply no way of having them together in a movie without including their incredibly deep bond on more than a friendship or family level. The Blood Pact between them is another simple but convincing and satisfying explanation as to why they won’t fight each other.
A good friend of Albus’ suprisingly offers us one of the best comedic scenes in the movie. Nicolas Flamel, the alchemist who has lived for a loooong, long time through holding the Sorcerer’s/Philosopher’s Stone in his posession. He is both creepy and adorably fragile. I would love to actually see him and Dumbledore interact in the future, sipping tea in his house, talking about old times and philosophizing about the meaning of life and mortality. For now, we get cute comic relief that is more than welcome in this dark landscape laid out by Grindelwald. A darkness that the Scamander’s are also able to banish by their unwavering determination to do what is right. Newt’s loyalty and trust in Dumbledore in particular mimics Harry’s relationship with his headmaster, an encouraging and safe relationship, soothing effect included.
The second part of this pentalogy had us witness secret identities, resurfacing of old bloodlines and certain details about the origins of one Nagini. The trailer already gave us a glimpse of the human form of Voldemort’s most trusted companion and the movie reveals her having falling victim to a blood curse. Said curse dooms her to, sooner or later, remain in the form of a snake. Unfortunately, that is pretty much all we get, Claudia Kim is barely noticeable beside Ezra Miller (Credence) and his Obscurus. So far, this idea of Nagini – the one and only blood-thirsty killer and secret Horcrux of Voldemort’s soul piece – once having been human is neither entertaining nor interesting. Why would Tom Riddle ever care for anything or anyone that had anything to do with mortals, humans, muggles, ordinary folk. I’m very curious to see where Rowling is going to take her story.
Another character woven into the story lacking a serious purpose other than adding to other people’s spotlight is Leta Lestrange. Her struggle with her family draws parallels to Sirius Black’s life but has about 1/3 of the time to develop a significant reach to the audience’s emotions. She manages to spice up Newt and Tina’s crushes on each other, jerks the story into an unexpected direction by revealing her crimes of the past and… that is it? Is it too early to say that some things already seem rushed in a five-movie-series? Whether my desire to see a more developed Leta stems from fangirling over any kind of Harry Potter lore, or wishing for a more significantly crafted embedding of a character that has a lot of screen time – Zoe Kravitz could have at least given us more than one look. Though stunning it is.
Before we turn to the BIG ONE, the plot twist at the end, I’d like to mention a couple of unexpected moments. Firstly, Leta Lestrange returning to Hogwarts and randomly strolling into a classroom when Dumbledore joins her. It is then and there he tells an ex-student about his sister, a part of his life he wouldn’t even share with Harry and now he just spills the tea? Why if not because he knows she needs to hear it, now, before her demise. I’m telling you HE KNOWS IT ALL.
Secondly, the gathering in the end where Grindelwald gives a riveting speech and an auror just offs a civilian. To me, this was unpredictable since Unforgivable Curses don’t just happen. And, of course, this was a reaction that Grindelwald anticipated and immediately used in his favor. Just like Dumbledore said, “Your policies of suppression and violence are pushing supporters into his arms.” Ain’t that the truth. Grindelwald’s ability to cloak his extremist views behind his smooth words is what distinguishes him from Voldemort, who wore his (non-existent) heart on his sleeve. To me, Grindelwald’s approach is more reminiscent of reality and therefore more intimidating. He uses the same tactics as some politicians today, such as manipulation through villainizing the opposition.
~ Aurelius Dumbledore ~
Let’s – not intentionally rudely but resolutely confidently – sweep aside Leta’s confession of drowning her brother and focus on another lost male member of a famous bloodline. Throughout the entire movie, everyone is searching for the real identity of the orphan child and Obscurus-bender Credence Barebone. They try to lead you down a different path with the whole Lestrange theory but obviously it doesn’t add up right from the start. And then Grindelwald finally walks up to him, a romantic view of the mountains in the background, a freaking phoenix chick in his hands – my entire body was tense at this point – and reveals that Credence is actually Aurelius Dumbledore. A lost sibling of Albus, Aberforth and Ariana.
I have seen predictions, theories and explanations but my reaction is quite short: Grindelwald must be lying.
There is no way in hell that there is another Dumbledore and they can put it in a nice enough exposition bubble that would be satisfying in any way. This must be part of Grindelwald’s scheme to defeat Dumbledore. He knows that forcing Credence will not work, so he has to ease up to it, manipulate him into thinking he’s acting out of free will. It’s perfect because he probably knows more about the Dumbledores than anyone else and he will use it to mess with Credence’s head.
My final words for this extensive piece will be that I really enjoyed this movie a lot and, more importantly, a whole lot more than the first one. Whether this will continue over the next 3, who could possibly know?
Dumbledore. Dumbledore would definitely know. For now, I’m happy that I’m still excited to talk about this movie and would love to continue to do so with YOU, our lovely readers! Just share any thoughts you have in the comments below!
Score so far:
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them: RANT
The Crimes of Grindelwald: RECOMMENDATION