Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald …

… or rather Fantastic Beasts: logical mistakes, incomprehensible character developments and a misleading title.

!!! Warning: This review includes major spoilers!!!

As much as I would like to start with how much I love the movie, I simply can not. The movie begins with a scene in New York in 1927, where Grindelwald ( Johnny Depp) is being held in a prison cell and is supposed to being transferred to London to be charged with his former crimes. In an overdramatic fight scene involving rain, thunder, and  a lot of spell casting, he escapes. And everything that happens after this is unnecessary, as it was either explained in the prequel  Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, or is just not important.

Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald has the potential to be an amazing movie for every age. The director David Yates ( Harry Potter and The Goblet of Fire, Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows) has experience with the magical world and again casts a spell over the cinema visitor. While watching the movie I was captured and truly enjoyed the tone and atmosphere Yates created, it was quite nostalgic to hear the first few notes of the Harry Potter theme and see Hogwarts. The few scenes which take place in Hogwarts  somehow felt like coming home, if it was not for a huge mistake. As mentioned before the movie is set in 1927 and we see professor McGonagall (born 1919) interacting with some students. But this is not possible due to the fact that she started teaching at Hogwarts in 1956, and it can not be an older relative of hers either because all her magical kinswomen have the family name Ross, like her grandmother Minerva Ross.

Over the course of the movie we travel from New York via London to Paris, where we actually experience some magic which takes us to another world full of colours and shows us  things we wish we could do. We see some new beasts, there are actually a few more but unfortunately they are not really in the focus of the film. In general,  Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald   is more about Dumbledore (Jude Law) telling Newt Scamander ( Eddie Redmayne) to fight Grindelwald because himself can not fight him, and  to find Credence (Ezra Miller). Credence has other plans and is looking out for his true family while Grindelwald also wants to find Credence so he can kill Dumbledore due to the fact that he can not have a magical duel against Dumbledore either. I have to mention that it is explained why they are not able to fight each other in the movie, sadly the story drowns in all the other side stories, most of them not really necessary for the plot. This is actually the main weak point Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald has. There is so much going on in so many different stories and with so many different characters that you do not really know what to focus on, which means there is no place for the main story. Throughout the movie we get no more information about Grindelwald and his past, except that he used to be like a brother to Dumbledore (nothing new for Potterheads!), and no more background story about his earlier crimes or why he is the way he is.

Another incomprehensible point which already bothered me while watching Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, is the character development of Queenie Goldstein (Alison Sudol). In Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them she portrayed a woman  who dressed in quite a girlie way and seemed a bit naïve but who showed that no matter what other people might think about you, you can be  strong, adventurous and rebellious, and fight for what you think is right, even if other people want to tell you otherwise.  In short: she is a strong and independent woman who knows what she wants. But suddenly she is easy to manipulate. Through some coincidence Queenie meets Grindelwald, who says like three sentences to her and she is on his side. How? She is a very well trained Legilimens! A Legilimens is someone with the ability to extract feelings, memories and thoughts from another’s mind. I just do not get it and it really disappointed me to see her like that.

But the revelation in the very end of Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald, when Grindelwald tells Credence that his real name is Aurelius Dumbledore was too much for me. By now all cinema visitors know that Grindelwald is a chronic liar but if this is true J.K. Rowling has to rewrite Albus Dumbledores story ( as well as Minerva McGonagall’s). Here are some reasons why Credence can not be one of Dumbledores siblings. Credence was born in 1901 but Dumbledores mother, Kendra Dumbledore, died in 1899 at the age of 48. His father, Percival Dumbledore, was sentenced to Azkaban in 1890 and died about eight to nine years later. So it is quite impossible that Credence and Dumbledore are biologically related. There are  theories about how they  could be related, but to be honest, most of them are  too much even for a magical world and others that could be possible are quite boring or do not satisfactority explain how they are in any way related.

Of course Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald has its good parts and moments. If I ignore the logical mistakes, poor character development and some  unnecessary love stories the movie is quite good. It has an astonishing atmosphere and impressive pictures, like the final fight scene. The attention to detail, especially when it comes to creating the creatures and the interaction between Newt and his Niffler is simply adorable. Actually Newt and his love for the fantastic beasts saves the movie due to the fact that the adoration simply warms your heart.

A huge plus is the incredible soundtrack by James Newton Howard  (The Dark Knight, I am Legend), which takes you back to the good old days in the magic world while listening to it.

In conclusion, even if it breaks my heart to say it, I am mainly disappointed and do not have the feeling that Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald has nearly as much magic as Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them ( which had so much potential) or any other Harry Potter movie.

Vivien Lewerenz

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