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Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald

“The time’s coming when you're gonna have to pick a side.”

Writing this review without major spoilers seems like a Herculean task. So let’s start with this. If you’re uninitiated in the Potterverse, you’re going to be very, very confused by this mess movie. If you’re a casual Potter fan, you might like this mess movie. I honestly don’t know what it’s like to be a casual Potter fan. If you’re like me, a diehard Potterhead who definitely owns a wand and, at last count, three Harry Potter scarves, prepare for disappointment. Or maybe you trust JK Rowling more than I do and trust that this mess movie is setting up bigger and better things or has been horribly misjudged. If so, I’d love to know what you think.

Okay now that that’s out of the way, spoiler time.


Instead of a traditional review, I’ve decided to take the controversial bits of the movie (or at least what I found to be controversial) and dissect them a bit.

First off, Minerva McGonagall was not alive, let alone teaching at Hogwarts, in the 1920s. Furthermore, you cannot apparate or disapparate inside Hogwarts grounds. Those are just straight up errors in continuity and should not have happened.

Johnny Depp as Grindelwald. Mistake. Just frankly a mistake. Before you attack me on this, know that I was a HUGE Johnny Depp fan for nearly two decades. And then he hit his wife. The first Fantastic Beasts was already completed (or close to) when the allegations became public so you really can’t blame the PTBs at Warner Brothers for leaving him in the movie. Now, the decision not to recast? A lot more controversial. Famously, the actor who played Vincent Crabbe (one of Draco Malfoy’s lackeys) was arrested for marijuana possession during the production of the original eight films. His part was cut out. Completely. No more Vincent Crabbe. This is why optimists like myself hoped Warner Brothers or whoever makes these decisions would see the light and recast. They did not. I felt so guilty that my money was in whatever oblique way, financially supporting him, I made a donation to his ex-wife Amber Heard’s favorite charity (Children’s Hospital Los Angeles) after leaving the theater. (Side note: I found a really cool website that logs celebrity donations so you can see what causes your faves support. Maybe next time your favorite musician/actor/whoever’s birthday rolls around you can donate to one of their chosen charities. Here’s the link.)

Okay now that that’s done with onto my plot grievances and there weren’t a few of them.

Grindelwald (like his successor Voldemort) is shown to be the magical equivalent of Hilter. Allegory was a big thing in the original novels. The subjugation of muggles/muggleborns was meant to mirror racism in the world today. So why. In the world. Would they have A JEWISH WOMAN LIKE QUEENIE GOLDSTEIN JOIN FORCES WITH GRINDELWALD WHY WOULD THEY DO IT WHY WHY WHY WHY WHY. She’s a Legilimens (mind reader), which means she can hear thoughts. And, yeah, Grindelwald is probably skilled enough in Occlumency (the art of deflecting mind readers) to put her off his I HATE AND WILL ENSLAVE MUGGLES agenda but she was in a huge crowd of Grindelwald supporters and she didn’t pick up on anything in the least bit dodgy?

It is suggested that, if the wizarding world gave way to Grindelwald, the Holocaust could have been prevented. WHAT? That’s crossing a line. Bringing real world atrocities into this is crossing a line. I’d been spoiled on this particular point but that didn’t make seeing it any less horrific in the theater.

Nagini, Voldemort’s snake who he controls fairly completely, actually started off as an Asian woman (the script says she was captured in Indonesia, the actress who plays her is Korean, and the name Nagini is Indian, do with it what you will) with a curse. That is just so obscene. That a person, a real, flesh and blood person was cursed to turn into an animal and that the curse was used in a magical freak show as an attraction…I have no words. Let’s add in that, in her “wisdom,” JKR has decreed that all Maledictuses (Maledicti?) are female and the whole thing is just a disaster. The human Nagini disappears completely into Voldemort’s pet, doing horrible things like killing on command and (I still shudder to think about it) possessing the decaying body of Bathilda Bagshot in order to set a trap for Harry in The Deathly Hallows until she’s finally BEHEADED by Neville Longbottom. Gross. It’s gross.

I’m getting depressed by this litany of awful so let’s wrap it up with the Worst. Credence is a Dumbledore. Excuse me, what? Unless it turns out that Grindelwald is lying to Credence (PLEASE LET THAT BE THE CASE), Aberforth and Albus left a certain GINORMOUS FACT out of their family history as told to Harry (and Ron and Hermione). Also, I mean, if Dumbledore had a brother or half-brother or whatever don’t we think Rita Skeeter would have dug it up while writing The Life and Lies of Albus Dumbledore? She looked heavily into Dumbledore’s background and I’m not saying she’s a reliable source but she had a nose for scandal, surely she would have found some inkling of this and included it in her book.

Bits and Pieces

How dare JKR write baby nifflers into the script and give me only one short scene with the cuties? They could have lightened up a LOT of what happened later, which was almost exclusively grim.

Weirdly, there was no reference to Grindelwald’s obsession with the Deathly Hallows. I mean, he obviously had the Elder Wand, but that was it.

First mention in HP canon of…okay I already forgot what it was called. The blood oath that meant that Grindelwald and Dumbledore couldn’t attack each other. Unclear why they wouldn’t just use an unbreakable vow (which got a shoutout this movie, so you know JKR didn’t forget about them). Also a bit of a retcon because in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Dumbledore admits to being too scared to face Grindelwald because of the possibility that Grindelwald knew what happened to Ariana and Dumbledore was afraid of knowing the truth. Although that disclosure happened when Harry was in “King’s Cross” and it remained delightfully unclear whether Harry was imagining the whole thing or Dumbledore was really talking to him. “Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean it is not real?” As far as problems with this film go, it’s way down on my list.

You’d be forgiven for thinking it, but the ship Leta and Corvus were on was not the Titanic.

Favorite performances of the movie include Jude Law as sexy Dumbledore. Young. I meant young did I say sexy? And Zoƫ Kravitz as Leta Lestrange.

one out of four baby nifflers



  1. I have never seen this movie (nor any Harry Potter movie, nor read any of the books), but I still laughed reading this review.

  2. I'm glad someone was able to gain some enjoyment from my suffering, CoramDeo. I really am.

  3. Great review btw! You picked out all the parts that had me trying to rip my hair out, and basically summarised every single thing that's been pointed out as really dumb with it, all with the characteristic passion only a Potterhead could have (:))

    I watched this one in theatres yesterday, and the plot holes were pretty glaring.

    I was almost able to forgive it for how gorgeous the CGI was when it came to Newt's creatures (every single scene that showed Newt and his creatures was absolute gold, I would watch 10 hours/5 movies of that), all of the costuming was great, almost every single actor was hitting it out of the park (special mention to Zoe Kravitz, Eddie Redmayne and Jude Law) and I loved most of the directorial choices (I really liked the extreme close-ups in the beginning between Newt and Leta).

    Awfully written, but what a goddamn gorgeous movie.

    On the things that I didn't like: Johnny Deph (Grrr), How useless Nagini was, that Dumbledore and Grindewald continue to just be implied, every single goddamn plothole, why was this set in Paris?, how did Credence survive?, the ten minute long baby-switcheroo game/reveal that went nowhere, and the weird "it's a trap!" thing during Grindewald's assembly (why did Grindewald want to trap Newt and co. again? Was it just to get at Credence? But didn't he already get at Credence?).

    Also, did anyone else find it weird that he saw Grindewald in the mirror of Esried instead of Ariana? That and the fact that its retconned that he didn't fight Grindewald because of the blood oath instead of because of lingering hangups about Ariana kinda just changed the characterisation of Dumbledore we learned in book 7 unnessescarily? Does Ariana even matter anymore? She only got mentioned one time in response to this incredibly contrived line from Leta that no one would ever say. She literally could just never have existed and this conflict would play out the exact same.

    What were the crimes of Grindewald?

    Honestly, I think I would have loved this movie if it was just Newt hanging out with his beasts, Newt and Dumbledore having long talks on a beach somewhere, and more Theseus and Newt. Just like, more Newt. He was kinda the highlight of this film for me (and I didn't like him much in the last one).

  4. Anonymous, I FORGOT ABOUT THE MIRROR OF ERISED. It was in the trailers and it really bugged me. I mean we're never TOLD what Dumbledore sees in the mirror (Harry just guesses that it's his family together, whole and unharmed) but Dumbledore HAS to love his family more than Grindelwald, especially after his true colors have been shown.

  5. All I have to say is this movie both bored and annoyed the hell out of me.

  6. Feel free to correct me if I'm wrong, but at one point J.K. Rowling was planning on doing 3 movies in the "Fantastic Beasts" series before she expanded them to 5. Looking at the way this movie went, it probably would have been better to stick to 3.

    I don't mind world building in a series, especially one like Harry Potter, but the problem here is it feels like J.K. Rowling is choosing to focus on that over telling a solid story. The quest to discover Credence's parents wasn't interesting and it took up time that could have been spent showing the actual war Grindelwald was waging against the muggle world. The misunderstanding between Newt and Tina was cliche and prolonged. A whole bunch of characters like Nagini, Nicholas Flamel, Theseus Scamander, and so on were introduced and completely underdeveloped. Basically, it felt like this movie introduced all these plot elements and characters and didn't know exactly what to do with them. As a result, it comes off like a hot mess.


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