Yesterday I joined my mom and sister for a movie. We selected Fantastic Beasts : The Crimes of Grindelwald. I’m an ardent Harry Potter fan. I own the books and I’m slowing reading my way through the series. I’ve seen all eight of the Harry Potter films multiple times.
Two years ago a new series of movies launched, with Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. This story in the wizarding world takes place in the 1920s and predates the time of Harry Potter, while building toward those events. The Crimes of Grindelwald is the second film of five in this series.
Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald
The stars of this fantasy film include Eddie Redmayne, Johnny Depp, Jude Law, Dan Fogler, Katherine Waterston, Zoë Kravitz, Callum Turner, Ezra Miller, Allison Sudol, and Claudia Kim . J.K. Rowling wrote the screenplay, based on characters she created in the Potter world. Directed by David Yates, the movie caries a PG-13 rating, for fantasy action sequences, and has a run time of 2 hours and 14 minutes.
Back to England
Set one year after the first film, the story opens with Gellert Grindelwald (Depp) escaping from his guards, en route to the British Ministry of Magic. Newt Scamander (Redmayne) is back in England as well, alone, caring for his growing collection of fantastic beasts.
He is approached by Albus Dumbledore (Law) with a mission: find Credence (Miller), the troubled young man thought dead in New York. Credence, who survived a vicious attack in North America, left his controlling adoptive mother. He seeks his birth family in Europe and desires to learn his story.
Credence ends up in Paris, France. He joins a traveling circus, and befriends Nagini (Kim), who has the ability to transform into a serpent. Together they abandon the circus, following a trail that might lead to Credence’s birth mother.
Converging in Paris
As Credence searches for his true family, Grindelwald takes up residence in Paris. He is looking for Credence, whom he feels is key to a future where wizards rule the world.
Also arriving in Paris is Newt, with his impossible suitcase full of beasts. He unexpectedly meets up with companions from New York (and the first film), Jacob (Fogler) and Queenie (Sudol). Newt inquires about Tina (Waterston), Queenie’s sister and the woman Newt loves. As it turns out, Tina is in Paris too, hoping to find Credence before Grindelwald does.
And finally, Newt’s brother Theseus (Turner) and future sister-in-law, Leta Lestrange (Kravitz), are in the city as well, hunting for Credence with the intention of keeping him safe.
Wizards face off against wizards, and mysteries deepen as old families find new connections and new family members even. And a darkly charismatic master woos more and more from the wizarding community to join him and create a new world order.
My Thoughts on The Crimes of Grindelwald
This film, that transitions to the middle of the story in this five part series, does exactly what it’s supposed to do. It adds depth to the tale, without resolving much of anything. In fact, it creates more questions than it answers…questions that will be answered as the story unfolds.
I enjoyed this return visit to the Potter Universe. As a fan I found much to rejoice over. Visually this is a stunning film, with fast paced action, rich backgrounds and those fantastic, magical beasts. I also appreciated all the Harry Potter references, known as Easter Eggs in movie terms. These are little nods to future events and characters that I know well.
It was wonderful to return to Hogwart’s School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, years and years before a boy named Harry would be a student there. And how fascinating to see a young Dumbledore, who would later become Hogwart’s Headmaster and the greatest of Wizards. Jude Law marvelously captures the older wizard’s gentle spirit, familiar mannerisms and twinkling eyes, in a fresh and dapper way.
More Fantastic Beasts to Come
Jonny Depp, whom many felt was a controversial choice for Grindelwald, plays the dark wizard well. Depp excels at losing himself in a character and this is no exception. He is compelling to watch.
Being unfamiliar with this lead up to Voldemort and Harry Potter, I have no idea where the story goes from The Crimes of Grindelwald. However, I’m captivated and curious. I’m in. I look forward to seeing the next chapter, in 2020.
Until then, I’ll be rewatching the Harry Potter films and reading the books and humming that unforgettable theme song.