The newest instalment in the Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them series, Crimes of Grindelwald continues Newt Scamanders adventures, as he travels to Paris to try to stop dangerous wizard Gellert Grindelwald.
This new five-part movie series has been a new source of obsessing and fangirling for many Harry Potter franchise fans, but has also brought up a certain amount of criticism. I thoroughly enjoyed it, so let me tell you why it’s done right by us Potterheads and why the nitpickers should zip it immediately – if not sooner.
Significant points found wanting are a lack of action scenes and Newt not being the focal point of the movie. I strongly disagree with both points, because for one, action scenes need to be a part of the narrative and not just a sequence of empty and meaningless cgi effects. An action scene needs to tell a story just like the rest of the movie. So, like many flopped superhero movies in the last years, and also like a few of the Harry Potter movies, having way too much action and not enough plot nuances in them, I commend Crimes of Grindelwald for keeping it even on the nonsensical action-packing.
Another point of criticism was that Newt should be in the center of the movie, as the movie series is supposed to revolve around him. This I am confused about, since Newt is and remains in the center of events. Similar to Mary in Lost and Delirious (if you know this reference, we should be friends!), the idea of Newt is him being a neutral point of perspective – yes, he is invested in all of the events and is also connected to all of the characters, but the story itself does not alter his life significantly, nor is he a main player – he is, however, a key player. And this will, obviously, remain the case.
Potterheads have also pointed out the fact that Dumbledore was actually the teacher for Transfiguration, not for DADA – however, several of the long-serving faculty have changed their positions and taken up different teaching positions. Maybe Dumbledore likes to switch it up from time to time, or the position of transfiguration comes with being the head of a certain house. It could be this or the other, but the logic in those details is arguably correct and not to be nitpicked. It adds to the movie, so just let it be.
On to more pleasant things. There are plenty of things done really well in the movie and now is the time to point them out!
The movie has a very good pace. It chooses wisely time and time again between having a dialogue between two characers, jumping in to an action sequence, actually slowing down the events or showing something special-effect-y. As I mentioned, a good movie knows how to incorporate its action scenes into the narrative, and Crimes of Grindelwald does just that. (Showing the amazing abilities of the ZouWou, establishing Grindelwalds unnerving persuasiveness, forging a bond between Leta and Tina, and so on) Well done!
Actual continuity of the main theme. Of course we all know that this one is headed for the Big Battle of 1945, but this franchise begun from Newt Scamanders love for fantastic beasts and the book he publishes based on his research. To actually see the second movie go into the beasts more and not depart from the original concept – because things are heating up – is also to be noted.
Interesting new plot lines. Not only the fact that Creedence plays an even more significant part than we anticipated at the beginning of this movie, but that connections between Voldemort and Grindelwald are already being woven. The Corvinus storyline felt a bit tired, but surely it also plays a part in the other movies to come, so I didn’t mind it much. We also got new information from Dumbledores and Grindelwalds special connection (and I don’t even mean that one), but still not all is revealed. Rowling sure knows how to keep an audience on its heels.
Easter Eggs. Small elements of the Potterverse were also included in these movies, like polyjuice potion, a young Minerva McGonnagal, the classroom for DADA, Hogwarts itself, the London Ministry of Magic, house elves, and a couple of other tidbits a Potterhead such as myself would and did enjoy. Having Yates and Rowling working together on this project surely was a great choice in regards to both the creative and in the visual department.
All in all, I was very happy with the movie, and can’t wait to see the third instalment. Sadly it’s coming on 20.11.2010, so we will have to hold off for almost two years – but there is always the good old Harry Potter Marathon Weekend to tide us over, now with two additional movies to boot.