Fantastic Beasts 2: The Crimes of Grindenwald
Saturday the 17th of November I took the kids to see Fantastic Beasts 2: The Crimes of Grindenwald. We all enjoyed the movie despite the plot holes. A lot of Harry Potter fans are frustrated with details that don’t line up with the information JK Rowling laid out in the original books. I remain hopeful that Rowling will address these issues in the third film. In the meantime, here are my thoughts on the matter:
One interesting note is that fans have wondered if Newt Scamander is on the Autism Spectrum or if he has Asperger’s. Overall, Newt is an odd fellow but still incredibly likeable.
Although it is not explicitly stated, Eddie Redmayne does seem to play Newt as on the Spectrum or Atypical. Newt doesn’t like to look people in the eye and he gets along much better with animals than people. Though brilliant, he comes across as a bit shy. We see in Fantastic Beasts 2 that he is offered a job at the Ministry for Magic working with his brother, but turns it down. As a student at Hogwarts his worst fear—as shown to him by the Bogart—was office work. He doesn’t like to be tied down to daily schedule doing work he doesn’t enjoy and he doesn’t like having to deal with people. Although these things are by no means conclusive, it does shed a new light on the character.
People have complained about Queenie’s shift in character though. She seemed so strong in the first and then by the second movie she is obsessed with getting married. Although it is sad, perhaps the regression was the only way to make her alliance with Grindenwald make sense. She would need a reason to switch sides and those who are swayed by the dark side are often taken advantage of when they are at their most vulnerable. I see her shift as a way to move the plot forward even if it is frustrating to fans.
When we saw Dumbledore visiting Tom Riddle in the orphanage in London he looks much older than Jude Law in this film. Although Jude Law fits the age Dumbledore would be in the 1920s, it doesn’t align with having Michael Gambon play a younger Dumbledore in The Half Blood Prince movie. Fans joke that Dumbledore’s duel with Grindenwald aged him. He had a stressful decade between Crimes of Grindenwald and the flashback in Half Blood Prince.
There is a meme of Jude Law as Dumbledore next to Richard Harris as Dumbledore in Sorcerer’s Stone. It asks when Dumbledore gave up elegant three piece suites for the more traditional wizard robes and why. This is a valid question. Both Fantastic Beast movies show a wizarding world that embraces new technology far more than the Harry Potter movies. Maybe there was a shift after both World Wars two to go back to Pre-Industrial times and abandoned Muggle Technology and Fashion. Rowling doesn’t explain this really, but it makes the most sense given what we know about tension between the wizarding world and the muggle world.
One minor quibble fans had was with Professor McGonagall being in Crimes of Grindenwald. One source puts her birth on October 4, 1935, which is about eight years later than the second movie. If I recall, Dumbledore did mention her last name, but not her first. This tells me that it could have been Minerva’s mother or aunt or sister even. Again, given what we were told in the books, this is the best explanation. It could be that Rowling wanted her character to appear, but had forgotten the timeline she’d laid out. Mistakes do happen and Rowling isn’t perfect. It isn’t the end of the wizarding world since it is a brief moment in the film.
What does matter is the presence of Aurelius Dumbledore. We are following this young man named Credence who is crucial to the plot somehow. We don’t realize why until the twist ending when Grindenwald tells Credence he is really Albus Dumbledore’s long lost younger brother. It left fans going crazy. Many pointed out Rita Skitter and Bathilda Bagshot would have known about a younger brother if he had existed. Between the two of them, they knew pretty much everything there was to know about Albus. Bloggers speculate that Grindenwald was lying to him.
My first thought was that he was really Ariana. What if Ariana didn’t die during the first duel, but did in the second. What if Grindenwald pulled a gender switching curse to disguise her as Ozma had been disguised as Tip in the Oz books? Credence or Aurelius is an Obscurial. This dark power sounds an awful lot like the explosions that Ariana caused before her death. In fact, it has been put forth that Ariana was an Obscurial So either there are two obscurials in the same family, or they are the same person! Also, the actor Ezra Miller who plays Credence is non-binary or gender fluid. I think it lends credence to this theory if you pardon the pun.
There has also been speculation about how Grindenwald and Dumbledore were able to duel the first time around if they had a blood vow not to. Perhaps that blood vow took place AFTER Ariana’s supposed death. If it was Grindenwald and not Dumbledore who shot the curse that killer her, perhaps he meant to hit her. And just maybe he cast a spell that didn’t kill her, but made it look like she died instead. Or maybe he did kill her, but then used the Resurrection Stone on her. I wouldn’t put it past him to have manipulated Dumbledore in this way.
On a side note, I loved the appearance of Nicholas Flamel and Nagini. We also get a glimpse of some Thestrals in the beginning. And then, of course, we see Dumbledore use the mirror of Erised. Not to mention all the cool, funny and scary creatures that live up to the name Fantastic Beasts. There are many wonderful Easter Eggs and crossovers to spot and enjoy.
Overall, the acting and the special effects were all well done. And the plot holes did not bother me as much as they did others. The movie was trying to cram in a great deal of information in a limited amount of time. It did make it messier than the first, but it also made it more interesting than it as well.
I agree that JK Rowling is better at writing books than movie scripts, but I still feel the movie is worth seeing. In novels one can take their time and have many subplots. It is more difficult to unfold a complicated and complex story in the two hours allotted by a movie. That is why I have found more enjoyment in books made into a TV series than movies recently. Having said that though, I felt that the Harry Potter movies were well done and translated about as well as they could have been to the big screen. And while Fantastic Beasts 2: The Crimes of Grindenwald has its share of flaws, I would still recommend it.
I still find comfort in the world Rowling has created and welcome more additions to that universe. You’d better believe I will be watching the third movie in the Fantastic Beasts series due out in 2020.