I have dawdled in writing the review for Fantastic Beats the Crimes of Grindelwald due to the fact that I needed time to process and digest everything. Even though it has been almost a month since I first saw it, and I’ve seen it since then, I still have way more questions than answers to this movie and what’s going on with the franchise in general.
So, I will attempt to answer some of these questions that I posit, and please feel free to add your own proposed answers.
1. What are Grindelwald’s crimes?
The most obvious questions are in the actual title. In the first 10 to 15 minutes, we see Grindelwald break out of prison (kill some of the Aurors while breaking out of prison), and then, he kills the family in Paris, France. Other than that, what crimes has he committed? I assumed, wrongly, that the audience would be told of the apparently treasonous actions that cause the entire Wizarding World to look for him in these first two movies. Except, we are not. I mean the main reason he is able to convince those people to follow him in the end, including the auror who had just killed one of his followers, is the way he twists the Aurors and ministries of magic actions to make him look more favorable; they are the evil ones for going after him and his followers for wanting freedom. If I hadn’t yet been informed of what’s so horrible about Grindelwald, I may have been tempted to join. Anyways, I hope they inform us what his crimes in the past are in future movies.
2. Nagini as a Manic Pixie Dream Girl?
Before the second full trailer was released (when Credence says Nagini’s name in reference to Claudia Kim), I had been informed by numerous theories that Claudia Kim’s character would be Nagini. There was also the slight chance that these theories were wrong, but alas, I went forward with this in the back of my mind. Since I had the time before the trailer to be annoyed that a minority woman (a woman from Indonesia; Nagini herself not the actress who is South Korean) would turn into a beast and stay that way forever, I decided to have the benefit of the doubt while watching the movie. I would wait until the movie premiered to leave my comments. Now, I want to say that I have nothing against Claudia Kim for anything to do with her character or how she was written; she is playing a role, and I understand that. I’m annoyed that her character had literally no lines, except to say Credence’s name over and over again, “I’m with your son,” and to not go with Grindelwald; she was mostly a prop. She even leaned extremely close to the Manic Pixie Dream Girl trope. At the basic level, MPDG is a girl who is vivacious and quirky (somewhere in the movie the main male character will say “she’s not like other girls”), whose main purpose is to inspire a greater appreciation for life in the male character. Of course, Nagini doesn’t match this exactly, as she is demure and quite shy, but other than that her role is to inspire Credence to be and do better. I’m not saying J.K. Rowling did anything wrong per se, YET, but I do hope she writes the next script to include more from this character. Especially, due to the fact, that Nagini eventually becomes one of Voldemort’s greatest allies and that is an interesting character arc.
3. What did they do with my wonderful, amazing Queenie?
I have thought about this for ages and talked with others about Queenie going over to the dark side. (I also know many people keep asking how she couldn’t read his mind, and my response to that: do you really think that Grindelwald is not an accomplished in occlumency)? So, Queenie decides to join Grindelwald because she wants to marry Jacob and in America, they can’t even be friends, let alone marry. Grindelwald convinces her to join because he will allow this. I highly doubt he would, but that’s not what I’m caring about right now. I do see people’s point (okay, really it’s one of my best friend’s points, who we will call Percival) that the combination of her mental health and desperation to marry Jacob would convince her to go to his side; however, I think my problem with that is the fact that it happened one movie too soon. I think they could have done this differently and quite better. They could’ve planted more ideas about her mental health and desperation in the first one or should’ve waited until the third one. Either way, I’m annoyed that they’ve taken a genuinely good character and had her go to Grindelwald’s side because of desperation. This may be coming off too negative to women who want to be married, and that is not my intent. I may not fully understand because marriage has never been that high of an ideal for me. I’m also open to people pointing out in the first movie where they see the projection of Queenie going to the dark side.
4. Aurelius Dumbledore?
What?!?! Please, I NEED THE THIRD MOVIE?!?! I have serious problems with this that are not only timeline-wise, but that is where we will start. Kendra and Percival Dumbledore have three kids: Albus, Aberforth, and Ariana. When Ariana was six, she was attacked by 3 muggle boys who witnessed her doing magic. As far as the audience knows, we are only given that she was “attacked.” There is no mention of what this attack entails; however, Percival, rightly enraged, goes after them and is sentenced to Azkaban. This attack took place in 1891, so we’ll assume that he was sentenced in late ’91 or early in 1892. Afterward, the Dumbledore’s re-settle in Godric’s Hallow where Kendra keeps Ariana locked in the house and in one of her fits (Ariana is totally an Obscurial, fight me), Ariana’s magic kills her mother. Kendra’s murder happens soon after Albus completes his education, so he’s around 17. This would have Kendra’s death be sometime in 1898. Credence had to have been born around the early 1900s (the Harry Potter wikia places his birth in 1901, but I think that’s too early. Since, the baby that Leta switched him with was around his age and she was about 8-10 years old on that trip to America, it would put his birth sometime between 1904 to 1907, maybe 1908 at the absolute latest). Either way, there is no absolute way for Kendra or Percival to have birthed another son. There are two other options for Credence to be Aurelius Dumbledore: he is a cousin of an unknown Dumbledore relation or he is Aberforth’s son. I don’t yet have any evidence for either of these plausibilities, they are just me trying to fit with what is given in this movie. Yet, why would Grindelwald say “brother?” And what better way to get someone to come to your side than tell them you can give them their greatest desire, which he does with both Credence and Queenie. I don’t believe that Credence is a Dumbledore because we were given so much backstory on Albus Dumbeldore’s life in Deathly Hallows that it feels too much retcon for me to buy into that, plus I like to think they are luring us into a false sense of knowledge with telling us Credence’s past so soon. We shall see what happens in the next movies though (I’m seeing a pattern here).
5. Why have Leta Lestrange?
Before anyone blasts me with hateful comments, I have nothing against Leta or Zoe Kravitz. I love both the actress and character, which is why I’m sad that they killed her off after only being in one movie. She plays a great role of this balancing act she’s doing between the two Scamander brothers, and she has this tragic backstory that’s wonderful to explore with her father’s abuse and the fact that she “killed” her own brother (I don’t think she did. I think Corvus is Credence; I don’t know how, but I do). Yet, we don’t get enough time with her, as she sacrifices her life for the Scamander brothers (yes, she sacrifices her life to both and loves them both in different ways), and that has way too many bad connotations (no, I’m not trying to make everything about race, but still, a black woman sacrifices herself for two white men, really?!?!) Also, with killing off Leta and Credence supposedly not being a Lestrange, then how do we have Rodolphus Lestrange? He is Bellatrix Lestrange’s husband in the Harry Potter books. They say in the movie that Corvus and Leta are the last line of a great French pure-blood family, which means to me that there are no other Lestrange’s out there, so I’m not sure how this will flow with cannon until the next movie is out.
As you can see, many of my answers are left with the same conclusion: we have to wait until the next movie comes out. This is something I’m not pleased about.
Of course, these are not the only questions I have about this movie. Even though I’ve seen it multiple times, each time I’m left with more questions than any actual answers. Hopefully, J.K. Rowling, David Yates, and everyone else at Warner Brothers know what they are doing because I haven’t got a clue, at this point.
Update 8/31/2020: Due to recent events and statements Rowling has made, I’m probably not going to see the next Fantastic Beast movie in theatres. I’ll wait until I can rent it or something.