Here’s why “Crimes of Grindelwald” wasn’t as bad as they all say.
I’m a Potterhead who did not go to the theater with high hopes last week. Let that sink in: an actual Potterhead was less than *SUPER EXCITED* to see a new film in the Harry Potter franchise.
To be fair, I wasn’t always a Potterhead. I definitely was a big fan starting around the age of 6, but lost myself somewhere in my early 20s at a point when I felt like I couldn’t care less (around the time of Cursed Child). But that was just a phase — and eventually, Potterdom crept its way back into my life.
So I waited about a week and half to see Crimes of Grindelwald. The first Fantastic Beasts movie wasn’t my favorite, and reviews were rolling in comparing the second one to Phantom Menace (ouch!) and saying that the convoluted plot was enough to potentially upend the entire Potter canon. I was just starting to feel the Harry Potter love again and wasn’t ready to lose it. But, if I’m being completely honest, the call of Eddie Redmayne was just a little too strong. I mean, have you seen The Theory of Everything? My Week with Marilyn? Les Mis? This guy can act.
And act he did! Redmayne can play any character you set out for him: young and naive, cocky, awkward and smart. He embodies Newt Scamander in a way that made me feel like I knew this guy. I can’t even remember anything about the first film, but Redmayne jumps into Scamander with a force that makes me feel like I’ve possibly been living next door to him my whole life. His stutter, his broken eye contact, his nostalgic grin for all things creepy crawly. Then add Zoe Kravitz to the mix. She’s not someone I pictured in a Harry Potter film, but she brought an edge with her that was fresh and exciting. Bravo!
As for the plot being confusing, okay, hang on a minute. There were definitely points where I found myself confused, but I kind of think that’s par for the course in the Harry Potter world. Since book/film one, J.K. Rowling throws stuff at her audience that doesn’t always make sense. Most of the time, she clears it all up by the end, and whatever isn’t explained will be. Rowling spent seven books and eight movies teaching us to suspend our disbelief. Isn’t that what magic is all about anyway? There are three more Fantastic Beasts movies coming our way: keep calm and watch on!
(ALERT, ALERT! POTENTIAL SPOILERS AHEAD! TURN BACK NOW!)
I mean, Credence being alive shouldn’t bother anyone. Rowling leads us to believe that people are dead (who aren’t, really) all the time! I’m looking at you, Peter Pettigrew. Voldemort disappears into black smoke several times over the course of the series, and we were on board with that. He’s a mega-dark wizard who can do anything you wants, you say? Well, Credence has got some mega-darkness going on, too, if you ask me.
Also, you people be nitpicking! McGonagall not being the right age?! Maybe it’s a mistake or maybe is McGonagall’s mother or grandma or aunt that’s teaching at Hogwarts during Crimes. Maybe that’s why McGonagall became a Hogwarts professor. Dumbeldore’s style isn’t what we know it as? People change their sense of style all the time: it depends on the day, the year, the mood, whoever is on the cover of Vogue this month! Queenie’s character arc isn’t ruined either. I assumed that aggressive teapot had a potion in it that was brainwashing her. Also, the film definitely plays up the idea that when people feel backed into a corner, they start grasping for anything for a way out. We see that in the changing political climates all over the world every day! And that Credence being a Dumbeldore thing? The movie already established that Grindelwald is a persuasive liar, and the fact that audiences are taking what he says as truth is a testament to how successful it is in that vein.
All this might seem like a stretch, but Rowling has proven again and again that you can ask her anything about her characters and her world, and she’s got the answer. This woman’s mind is limitless. Aren’t hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of pages of writing, countless interviews, and an entire series of record-breaking films enough to gain our trust?
Maybe I’m not enough of a Harry Potter nerd/fan/follower/loyalist to get bothered by all this, but I say we sit back and try to relax a bit. Crimes packed a punch that I wasn’t expecting, but that’s what I liked about it. It breathed new life into the Harry Potter series. It may be part of a prequel series, but it added relevancy to the storyline that no longer necessarily applies to the original. Instead of complaining, let’s applaud and look forward to the next few films ahead. Rowling has always been one to lead us astray before bringing us safely back home.