I’m going to take a break from book reviews today, to give a movie review. It’s also going to be quite heavy with spoilers, so fair warning, if you haven’t seen Fantastic Beasts, the Crimes of Grindlewald yet, don’t read any more of this blog. Instead, go see the movie, and read when you’ve watched it, and feel you need to see the opinions of another person who’s watched it.
I’ve mentioned before how I’m a big fan of Harry Potter. I grew up with it, and the story is a huge part of me. Which is why when the first Fantastic Beasts movie came out, I made sure that I was seeing it as soon as possible, in a special screening. The same for the second film.
This won’t be me arguing about the casting choice for Grindlewald. I know it’s a very controversial topic right now, so I’m just not going to touch it. Instead, I’m going to talk about the film itself.
To start off with, I loved it. It was visually stunning, with great effects. Newt was just as adorkable as ever. Tina was wonderful. Jacob and Queenie were absolutely beautiful. Then of course, there are the stars of the film, the beasts themselves.
Everyone’s favourite niffler returns, this time with some babies who cause havoc in Newt’s home. The baby nifflers are absolutely adorable, and I’m not afraid to say that I’m probably going to buy plushies of them as soon as I can. I remember walking away from the first film talking with my friend, excitedly talking about how we needed a niffler plushy. Of course, they delivered. I have one sitting right behind me now.
Nagini is wonderful, although I can definitely understand the controversy surrounding her. The idea of a maledict is great, and of Nagini, the snake we’ve all grown to love/hate in the original series, being one is wonderful. However, I am somewhat worried because I instantly fell in love with her. Nagini is a lovely person, who’s clearly been hurt in the past. She spends most of her time in the film trying to help Credence on his quest to discover who he is. However when the time comes to choose whether to follow him and join Grindlewald, or to stay with the chance to fight against Grindlewald, she chooses to stay. This is where I have my problem. Well, let’s just say, potential problem. It will take a great amount of fantastic story telling to get this beautiful character to join Voldemort. Certainly, there’s an element of Voldemort having control over her due to her being his horcrux. However, Harry was able to resist, without even being aware he was a horcrux.
There are other wonderful creatures, of course, though many we only see briefly. There’s the augurey, who I would have loved to see more of, after everything in Cursed Child. Pickett makes another appearance, with his beautiful bowtruckle nature. We see some firedrakes in a cage, and a kappa in a bath. Of course we see the kelpie, who Newt and Bunty are helping with healing. We catch a glimpse of a leucrotta, and there are the matagot’s in the ministry. Thestrals make another appearance, driving the cart where Grindlewald makes his mistake.
Finally, a new star appears to try to steal the show with the zouwu. A beautiful creature, it is very reminiscent of a cat, with the way Newt manages to befriend it and calm it down. I feel one of my favourite moments may have been when Tina took the toy and caught its attention.
Now it’s time to talk more story things that I may or may not have been happy with. I loved how charismatic they showed Grindlewald to be. This was what made him such a dangerous person, how he managed to convince people that he was working for the greater good. It wasn’t that he hated muggles, but that wizards were better. He even convinced Queenie, a character who loves a muggle, to join him, for the betterment of wizard kind. They didn’t even shy away from showing how Albus loved Grindlewald, which made me quite happy.
Leta was wonderful. I was curious about how she would fit in with the story, and particularly with how she was going to fit in to Newt’s story. I was a little worried, after the first film, that perhaps she would be a Bellatrix clone. Instead, she was a lovely person, set to marry Theseus, Newt’s brother. Theseus was also quite an interesting character. Not gonna lie, there may have been some tears on my part when Leta died. Her story was beautiful. I loved how she was a perfect example of a Slytherin, without being evil.
I have saved what I feel as the most controversial and spoiler filled thing for last. At the end of the film, after it is revealed that Leta swapped her brother for another child on the boat, we (supposedly) discover Credence’s true identity, as a long lost brother for Aberforth, Albus, and Ariana. I was so angry when this was revealed, because it seemed like lazy writing and story telling to me.
Then I thought about it some more, and realised that it could be amazing story telling instead. The so-called proof that was offered up was a phoenix, (presumably Fawkes) who Credence had been taking care of as a baby, and was revealed to be a phoenix at the end of the film, when Grindlewald reminded us of a story that had been briefly foreshadowed earlier about a phoenix coming to a Dumbledore in need.
At first, I was angry, because of how this contradicted what we know about the Dumbledores. Of course, that’s when I started to really think about it more. Because it does in fact contradict what we know. Here’s what we know.
Ariana Dumbledore was an obscurus, much like Credence. She became one after muggles teased her furiously. This is when Percival Dumbledore killed the muggles who had hurt her, and was locked up in Azkaban for it, where he later died. Even in the wizarding world, it takes two to make a baby. Then there’s the little fact that Credence couldn’t have been more than twenty years old in the first film, which took place in 1926, a solid 27 years after Kendra passed away.
Sounds very contradictory of course, when you lay it all out like that. However, what if it is supposed to be? And this is where I decided to accept (at least for now) what happened at the end of the film. It’s yet another example of Grindlewald using his charisma to get others to do what he wants. He explained previously how he wanted Credence to join his side so that he could kill Albus for him, something Grindlewald couldn’t do himself because of the blood oath he and Albus swore.
Kendra Dumbledore was killed by her obscurus daughter. Grindlewald, being close to young Albus, and part of the cause of Ariana’s death later on, was well aware of this fact. Which further explains why he might want Credence to be the one to kill Albus, to hurt him all the more. No one ever said he wasn’t a cruel man. So, Grindlewald simply needed Credence to be uncertain about his heritage, and to prove that he couldn’t be Corvus Lestrange, in order to convince Credence to join him. Once there, he lies about Credence’s parentage, in an effort to make Credence hate Albus, so that he might kill him.
Of course, there’s always the chance that my theory is wrong, and that it simply was lazy story telling with an attempt at a shock factor. I suppose the only way to find out will be to watch the next film, when it comes out in two years time.