The Crimes of Grindelwhaaat?!
As so many of you have requested to hear my views on the new release, I have decided to post them here.
Below are my opinions on certain aspects of Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald. These are, of course, my own personal views about the film. However, I have tried to base them on facts rather than just picking at the film in general! I want to make it clear - I REALLY WANTED TO LIKE THIS FILM, BUT ALAS, I DID NOT.
Please take this as fair warning. I will mainly be writing about the features of the film that I disliked, rather than a balanced review of all the aspects. Don’t get me wrong, I did enjoy certain parts, but this is not written as a balanced review, it’s an explanation of why I did not like the film as a whole. DO NOT READ THIS UNLESS YOU ARE WILLING TO HEAR BAD THINGS. You may say "but you haven’t mentioned any of the things you liked”. That is true…but I also haven’t mentioned many more things that I did not like!
Please feel free to call me out on anything I have wrong (I am only human and willing to take it back!). Also, I’m sure I have missed things in viewing, so please point those out too :]
Firstly, we need to go back a little to gauge some context…so please bear with me:
The Cursed Child
- I did not enjoy The Cursed Child screenplay (I have not seen the play itself, though I’ve heard it is magical to behold!). Now, this does not have any direct bearing on how I feel about the FB series, of course, but it does mark the start of my estrangement from the Wizarding World in general. I do not think that this addition should ever have come about in the way it did.
Fantastic Beasts & Where to Find Them
- I did, however, enjoy the first film more than I had thought I would, so the spark was rekindled! Hooray! This was a great start for the new series in general! I was excited.
- I found faults in it, as with all films, they have their errors, but it was thoroughly enjoyable and tie-in. The only significant error that bugged me here was 'the disarming of Grindelwald’ (this can be saved or addressed in the future films, but if it isn’t I will be forever bugged by it). Without going into too much detail - Tina disarms Grindelwald. Therefore Grindelwald isn’t the master of the Elder Wand (it doesn’t matter that he was disarmed of the Elder wand itself, as with Harry and Draco), therefore nor is Dumbledore after him, or Draco after that, or ultimately, Harry. Tina must be disarmed or killed by Dumbledore or Grindelwald (or some other long chain of wand swapping) for this chain to work in the HP films…
So, now onto the new film itself (sorry, I know this is rather ranty):
Fantastic Beasts & They are Kind of Irrelevant
- This is the FB series, but the little interaction of beasts within the plot really shocked me. Even when we see creatures/beasts, there are so many of them that aren’t mentioned by name or even seen in detail, such as in the scenes at the circus. Only two occasions can I really think that the creatures affected the actual plotline in a significant way (in which I mean, if these things didn’t happen, they couldn’t really have continued with the plot). 1 - The Zouwu assisting with the ‘cat’ familiars escape scene. 2 - Niffler taking Grindelwald’s pendant. There are, of course, other interactions along the way (I loved the Kelpie scene, it was one of my favourite bits of the film) and I do not deny that their presence made the film enjoyable. My point is that I can’t be the only one who was expecting Newt to go off in search of Fantastic Beasts to compile a book about them?
- The book itself is my next point. As the title content, should this not have been focused on a little more?! Regardless of my previous comment about the films’ content, is Newt’s book actually going to make another appearance at all? I can’t believe that it was only relevant in the first film…
I’m not a Filmmaker, but...
- Aside from the issues of timelines, plot holes, etc (featured below), I actually did not think the film itself, as a film, was very well made. I have a number of issues here, ranging from the super close up shots (I’m sure I saw a glimpse of Theseus’ brain up his nostril) that made me want to move back from the screen, to the handy-cam focusing on Leta in the Hogwarts classroom while I was standing on a boat, bobbing about trying to read the writing on the desk. It was distracting and made a messy plot even harder to follow for me.
- Graphics. Now of course, the graphics, in general, were astounding, I’m not denying that. However, you would expect this from such a blockbuster film. But, a lot of the time, particularly in fight/chase scenes (the carriage escape in particular springs to mind), I had not really idea what was happening to the parties involved. Too fast, too muddy, too chaotic. You may disagree here, but again it distracted me a lot from what was actually happening. Flashback to the stormy quidditch match in PoA - it’s quite obviously possible to capture it well, so why was it so poor this time around?
- Who is that again? I lost track of characters so often that I almost wanted to jump on my phone (which remained switched off, as it should be) to check. How can so much backstory offer so little…backstory?! Jumping back and forth from multiple plot lines diluted the story for me. This also meant that the finale at the end where everyone came together to contain the evil blue fire dragon thing (Fiendfyre? Who knows…) that it didn’t feel like a fellowship fighting evil, more like a group of strangers who happened to have bumped into each other in the graveyard and decided to help.
- The plot is actually so thin in this film that it can be explained in so few words. The title The Crimes of Grindelwald suggests some seriously major stuff is going to go down, and don’t get me wrong, he sure does commit or take part in some crimes (killing a toddler?!?! How Voldemorty). But to me, it was Escape - Gather - Murder - Flee. I think this is most likely due to there being so much else going on with everyone else, but they needed to commit some serious time to the major plotline, in my opinion. It really feels like they are stretching the sequence of events out to span the 5 films when they could have been covered in 2 or 3. But that’s showbiz, kids… This was a middle film, of course, but it was just there to set up the rest, not interesting in itself.
- There were so many HP namedrops in the film, which I don’t disagree with at all in principle (we all love an easter egg), but so many of them were just ‘Hey look, we are linking it to Harry Potter, aren’t we clever’ and had no meaning within the film itself. I feel this was a bit of a brainwash attempt to make the crowd feel like they were back with Harry. (I won’t go into detail about the whole Dumbledore teaching DADA and the sheer presence of McGonagall here, they requires their own sections!)
I’ll have you know that I have been teaching at Hogwarts since before I was born!
- Ok, so I’m sure most of you know this by now, but McGonagall ‘was’ born in 1935, 8 years after the events of CoG. I actually found out about her inclusion before I saw the film, so it was something I was expecting to see, at least in part. What I wasn’t expecting, however, is for her not only to feature teaching in the current Hogwarts 1927 class, but also a flashback even further to when Newt & Leta were there…so what’s that, 1913ish? So, she would have had to have been born in 1895 at the very latest to be an 18-year-old teaching at Hogwarts (unlikely, even if we skip the ministry years). It was so unnecessary for her to be in this film, other than as a name drop. The most frustrating thing here is the sheer laziness of it, especially after her backstory was released not that long ago (in the scheme of things). Why would you do this to us, JK?! In my opinion, it is inexcusable.
- I’m fairly sure that this also means that Minerva wouldn’t have been taught Transfiguration by Dumbledore (or DADA, according to this film. When did that happen?!) at Hogwarts either (its difficult to say with such an inconsistent timeline), which drastically effects the relationship between the two in later life. Pff, I say, pfffff.
- The most damning thing about this feature is that it would make her around 100 years old when Harry starts Hogwarts… I am not okay with this, neither should you be! It’s like they have disregarded the entire series where is easy to do so, and are dropping it in everywhere else they can to pull you into the franchise. Sorry, I’m getting a little heated here, but this was one of the major issues I had with this film.
While we are discussing the Timeline…
- There are a number of other mistakes in the timeline, and I won’t outline them all, but the next major issue is Credence being named Dumbledore’s brother. Firstly, I do not think this is true. I believe Grindelwald is lying to Credence for his own gain (so no problem here!). At least I hope this is the case…otherwise, let me explain. Albus’ mother Kendra died in 1899, his father went to Azkaban in around 1891, so unless Percival fathered a child within Azkaban (kudos if he did!) that means that Credence has to be at least 36 years old during The Crimes of Grindelwald events (if he is Albus’ full brother. Minimum age of 28 if he is a half-brother). In the previous film (I believe) it is stated that he is 20-21. This is fixable, yes. It may be that Credence is in fact older than he appears to be, but if it is not explained, it’s still a huge hole. I also do not believe for one second that he would not have been mentioned at all in previous events (HP) if this had been the plan from the start. Another building block carelessly smashed into the foundation of HP facts, destroying aspects of both as it goes...
- You can’t and never have been able to apparate into Hogwarts grounds. This does not just include the castle…the entire grounds. Lazy breach by the makers. Why not just have them appear just off-site and walk towards the castle, akin to Mad-Eye in GoF or Voldemort & Co in DH? A simple error that was so easily avoidable. The voiding of this rule negates so much else in the Wizarding World (see my point on lack of magical rules later).
Purple Velvet Suit
- I love the 1920’s fashion style, and it was wonderfully executed in the film. But…where are the robes? The weird and wonderful hats? The outlandish footwear? When did everyone in the Wizarding World decide they were going to dress as bank managers instead of magical folk? More to the point…at what point in the subsequent years did they decide to revert back to the far less formal (but much more magical) that they wear during HP? The was no magic in the clothing, at all.
- Case in point - Dumbledore. Who on earth decided that he should spend the entirety of the film in a grey suit… it’s almost criminal! When Albus goes to visit Tom Riddle in the orphanage (1938, so not that long after these events) he is noted as to be 'drawing many curious glances due to the flamboyantly cut suit of plum velvet that he was wearing’. Why is he in grey…please explain…
- I bet the fashion department was so excited when they were given the job! I bet that didn’t last long.
- I actually love this addition, in principle. Let’s start there. The idea is brilliant and adds a whole new dimension to the later events of the HP series. But…and it’s a big but… Do you really expect us to believe that no-one would have thought to tell Harry that Nagini was once human, or that Dumbledore didn’t suspect from the start of Voldemort’s beginnings that she wasn’t a Horcrux?! That would have been a cracking hint! It just smashes hard and carelessly against previously known facts. It could have been so great! This is saveable, I guess, but it had better be addressed.
- Also, as with all characters, the part was so light in the plot. I’d like to know how many words the character spoke in the film.
Something odd about Queenie & Jacob
- While we’re here and before we begin, Jacob has his memory back. Hmm, another lazy ‘Oh, actually, no because...’ from the previous film for me. An afterthought? This was one of the key aspects of the end of FB1, so to negate it so casually is upsetting.
- The fact that Queenie has Jacob charmed is stupid in my opinion. This is for one of two reasons. 1 - He is so smitten she wouldn’t need to. 2 - She is so unhinged, he so concerned for her mental wellbeing that he wouldn’t have reacted as he did. I get the reason, but it was a silly way to show it in an otherwise adoring relationship.
- Queenie goes to the dark side like a bloody moth to a lamp! Again, this may well be drawn upon (it had better be) in future instalments, but it was just so hot and cold that it was jarring and unbelievable for me.
Hi Leta. Bye Leta.
- So yeh, Leta is dead already, that’s great. And quite honestly, not a lot of reaction from the Scamanders there either?! I thought this character development was going to be the best in the film/s, but no, apparently not. This is a real shame, but hey ho. Maybe she sacrificed herself for love of a Scamander, meaning he is protected (but which oneeee?!) We will see.
They don’t make ‘em like that anymore
- Spell use in general, akin to the Force in the new Star Wars films, seems to have no or far fewer rules or bounds. This is a problem because it means that pretty much anything is possible. Apart from the Unbreakable Vow, nothing else restricts the use of magic, with or without wands apparently. With such a wealth of known spells, why throw in so many random new ones (did Newt really say 'Papyri Repari' to fix the postcard?!) when something known already exists for it (why not just Reparo? At least keep the ‘o’!). Again, forcing something that didn’t need to be in this case.
- This saw the introduction of spells that were unnecessary or that went against their known use. For example - Lumos (the Wand-Lighting Charm) lights the tip of the wand, it does not go off searching for information for you. Why not just add something to it (Locomotor has been suggested to me, but anything relative would do). Lumos Locomotor, Lumos Golookylooky. But not Lumos on its own. Laziness.
Eye, Grindelwald, take you Albus...
- I’m not going to comment on the Albus/Gellert relationship here (that doesn’t mean I’m ok with it featuring so ambiguously) because it is a whole other thing entirely. This topic is about the white eye. Not present in HP films, either as a young or old Grindelwald, so why add it in? Unless…it was given to him during the fight between him and Dumbledore (or him, Dumbledore and Aberforth earlier), that would have been awesome! But no, it doesn’t work like that. Opportunity missed, reason unexplained. Johnny Depp MUST not look like Johnny Depp!
Class, not Choice
- Flipping the HP feel on its head, this series is all about who you are born, not what choices you make in life. So…can you really choose which house you’re put into at Hogwarts? Does your bloodline really matter? A minor point perhaps, but one that adds to the confusion and damages the past plotlines if not addressed.
Well done, you got through this! I got through this…I’m proud of us both :]
You can say that I shouldn’t compare or link FB to HP, but I’m afraid I just can’t do that. They are tied, they should be part of the same world. If you can bypass this, then a lot of my points won’t matter. But I can’t!
If you haven’t seen the film, please do, and I hope you are able to do so with an open mind! I really do hope that you enjoy it :] If you have seen it and you loved it, then I am envious of you. I truly, deeply, wish that I was able to feel the same way.
At this point, however, I have made the decision not to follow the series any further as to not damage my love for the existing Wizarding World. This is a real shame, as I am sure there is so much more to be offered yet. Who knows… I might come around!
I came out of the cinema feeling confused and actually kind of upset (angry is the wrong expression) and I can’t shake this feeling. I feel like an injustice has been done to the fans who deserve so much better and I feel could easily have gotten it with a little more care and attention. But that’s just me.
I welcome your comments and criticism, and as I said, please call me out if I have anything wrong!
All the best,