As a big fan of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (Newt is, by far, my favorite Hufflepuff), I was very much looking forward to The Crimes of Grindelwald. I wasn't disappointed, by any means, but what I found in Crimes was not what I expected. I am, like many watchers, left a little confused...
Great filming. Loved the action-packed beginning, the dynamic shots, the ways in which this movie is filmed in much darker colors (it's a darker movie), and the phenomenal acting.
The story-line was intriguing enough to keep me wondering how Credence could be related to LeStrange and other characters, and why that would be important. The acting that complimented it--Depp's dynamic role as a charismatic though truly evil villain, Newt's growth with his human counterparts, LeStrange's riveting love and sacrifice, Queenie's struggle with her inner demons and society, and Dumbledore's heartbreak--was wonderful to watch.
Nagini! Need I say more? Nagini gets to be a real character! Kinda rockin'.
The portkey scene...so darn funny. I love Jacob. More Jacob, please!
So much that is happening has almost no basis in previous work. For instance, Nagini's very existence. While it's cool that we get to experience an interesting take on a character we thought we knew in HP, it doesn't seem to have a basis in the story familiar to me. In HP, I'd not heard of a person with her "condition." It seemed to me that that was something that might have come up at one point. Maybe it's rare thing, but I'm not sure how I feel about that popping up.
The other "pop up" is the ending. Spoiler alert! Do not keep reading, if you haven't watched it yet. There's no basis in the HP books for another Dumbledore brother. There's a sister who dies young, Dumbledore's brother who runs the Hog's Head, and his parents who were physically separated after Percival was jailed for attacking the muggles who assaulted his daughter. His mom probably didn't have a baby with another person in between her death, after her husband's imprisonment, right? We'd have heard that mentioned, right? Because Dumbledore's mother dies due to a magic-related accident involving his sister's lack of control (a possible early reference to Obscurial). So...where does this brother come from? Is it made up by Grindelwald to lure Credence into his clutches? Why the phoenix, then? It reminds me of the Obscurial from the first movie. It's never obviously referenced in HP, but then is the entire basis for Fantastic Beasts. Another brother is never referenced in HP, but is now the basis for Crimes. I don't know about that.
I'm also not sure that I like that Queenie goes so off in this one. Rather than making her more complex, the ways in which she is manipulated make her appear ignorant, which I don't like. In Fantastic Beasts, she is forward-thinking and clever, so why would she fall prey to Grindewald, no matter how cunning he is? Especially when it separates her from her love? That was stretch to me. One that made a really great character act in a way that goes to counter to her original persona.
Overall, the movie kept me going, kept me hanging on, but it left me wanting more of the humor of the first, more friendship shots between Jacob and Newt (who are a great pairing), and a little more clarity. It seemed a bit convoluted. Not a bad movie at all. I enjoyed it. But it was not, in my opinion, as enjoyable as Fantastic Beasts, which so well balanced light and dark, funny and serious, good and evil. This one felt less balanced.
H.M Jones is the author of B.R.A.G Medallion Honor and NIEA finalist book Monochrome, its prequel Fade to Blue, the Adela Darken Graphic Novellas, Al Ravien's Night, The Immortals series, and several short stories.