Crimes of Grindelwald: Guest Review 1

Kelly Loomis has been carrying the Crimes of Grindelwald ball for the HogwartsProfessor team in the run-up to the film’s release last week so that the rest of us could focus on Lethal White‘s artistry and meaning. It’s been a tough job because, every time Kelly put together a comprehensive post — see her Top Ten ‘Crimes of Grindelwald’ Plot Points Pulled from Trailers, Merchandise, and Fan Sites — Rowling and Warner Brothers would move the goal posts the same or next day with another Big Reveal. I asked Kelly, because of her greater knowledge of and investment in the Fantastic Beasts film franchise, to write our first review of the film. She obliged me with this offering — Enjoy!

I enjoyed Crimes of Grindelwald tremendously.  Going into it I was worried that I had been spoiled by too many trailers, photos and merchandising especially after seeing an interview with Ezra Miller before the first Fantastic Beasts movie which gave away the final Grindelwald-Graves twist.  And, arrogant as I was because of all the online reading and research I’d been doing, I thought I had it all figured out. Ha! Rowling strikes again. I have now seen the movie twice and have poured over the published screenplay. These are my first impressions:

The movie went really fast for me.  I thoroughly enjoyed it despite my high expectations and anticipation — and was shocked at the Leta reveal and the final scene Credence-Aurelius twist that few had foreseen.  I sat all the way through the credits trying to wrap my head around how this Dumbledore piece could have happened – trying to remember dates, ages, etc., etc. Then doubt crept in; knowing who was telling the tale, how could I be sure I had seen what I thought I saw?

I was pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed characters that I was iffy about after the first film.  To me, I just wasn’t taken with them or had not bought into them yet. 

My excitement after seeing the first film was because I believed we were going to be getting more “Harry Potter” through the backstory of Grindelwald and Dumbledore.  I spent many hours pouring over content of the first film and even going to book stores to peruse the tie-in books looking for clues as to where this series was headed.  It was in the aftermath of the first film that I first happened upon – not realizing I had actually been given and read John’s first book, How Harry Cast His Spell, many years prior.

What did the professional reviewers get right and wrong?

In some aspects, I agree with reviewers who have said there is just too much being attempted in this story.  It would definitely make a wonderful novel and I have always preferred Rowling novels over the films.  I thought with her writing the screenplay that more of her would come through these films than the film adaptations of her Hogwarts Saga.  It does, but at the same time, this screentime is not the best medium for the complexity, subtlety and layers of Rowling’s stories.  This would have been better as a mini-series drawn out over six hours rather than crammed full in 2 ¼ hours.

I agree, too, with others who believe this is not a stand-alone movie. And I don’t know if non wizarding world people would understand it or appreciate it. Many of us who have already immersed ourselves in the Harry Potter world are looking forward to how the rest of the Beasts story plays out, but six more years is a long time to wait for a finish.  I doubt a casual viewer will stick with it. 

Rowling said she wrote these prequel films for the fans. However, I agree with John that she wanted control over the content and didn’t want Warner Brothers messing it up as badly as they did the Potter adaptations, so that, when they told her they were going to exercise their rights over Fantastic Beasts, she stepped in.  Her lack of experience as a screenwriter has come out especially in this movie, unlike the first introductory movie, that she has made so “fat” with content only understood by those familiar with the original Wizarding World seven book saga.

Now onto the characters…

I adore Jude Law as Dumbledore. He gets Dumbledore. He acts just as I would have expected.  I’m a little disappointed in his costuming, however.  The script described him in his first scene as a “dandyesque forty-five-year-old wizard…”  I think Colleen Atwood, the only Oscar winner in franchise history, missed the boat on that one. More outlandish colors or patterns would have been better, but perhaps some of the drabber colors and staid suits Albus sports are Atwood’s visual reminder of the dandy’s emotional state at this time.

I was delighted by Newt.  At the end of Fantastic Beasts 1, I couldn’t see Eddie Redmayne’s appeal.  He upped his acting game or he was given better material this time (I think it was the latter). His bromance with Jacob continues to delight audiences and his relationship with Tina towards the latter part was precious.  The “Salamander eyes” scene and Tina’s knowledge of that description from reading Newt’s just published book (and memorizing it!) was priceless.

I felt, too, that Johnny Depp acted the Grindelwald role really well.  His mannerisms, differing vocal intonations and styles were elegant.  The scene where he looked like he was conducting the fire was wonderful.  However, I CANNOT get past his horrible interpretation of Grindelwald’s appearance.  They gave the actor a pretty free reign with that and I think it was a mistake.  Yes, it’s a high stakes game he is playing, but the teenage frolicking Grindelwald seen in the adaptation of Deathly Hallows and this film’s Mirror of Erised scene was so much more appealing. Put the beauty of that actor along with his ability to persuade and it would have been truly magical.

And the Seven Players beside the Terrific Triumvirate?

Tina’s interactions with Newt and others and her brusqueness would have been annoying if she hadn’t softened towards Newt in the last part.  Her delight in him and his world were very evident in the archives scene and the zouwu scenes. 

Queenie seemed off the wall in this installment.  She was almost manic. Not that much time had passed and she was so impatient to get married and be loved in that way that she put the spell on Jacob, kidnapped him, and then —  a little rain and loneliness later — bang, she was willing to go to the Grindelwald “Free to Love” side. She was very puzzling.  I can understand Gindelwald’s appeal to her but combined with everything else she did, I’m with Jacob; she WAS acting crazy. Except that she survives the trial by circular, truth-telling Fiend Fyre (or a near equivalent) at the finish, you’d have to think she was a double agent for Dumbledore.

Credence was, well, Credence.  He wasn’t developed very much in the film and in some ways the Gloomy Gus was overlooked even though all the hype suggested he was supposed to be the center of the plot action. Instead, he drives it as Gellert tells us the whole story is to get Credence to come to him rather than repeat the failed finish of the first film. But we see very little of Credence’s struggle with that decision, if there was one.

Nagini the Maledictus was a likable character though tragic and she didn’t do much other than look tormented and be close to “I want to know who I am!” Credence. I do look forward to their development individually and as a pair over the next three films. We have a pretty good idea she survives the finale…

Kama was thrown in for the development of the red herring of Credence’s Lestrange identity.  I can’t see him being involved very much in the future.

Leta was a very tragic character.  Zoe did her part looking tormented but I think the real star was young Hogwarts Leta. Theseus was much more likeable than I thought he would and he really loved his brother.


Those are my intitial reactions.  I hope we will get more into exploring what is actually going on with Grindewald and who Credence really is. No matter if Credence is a Lestrange, a Dumbledore, or a member of any other family, he is very powerful considering how he has controlled and marshalled his Obscurus.  Grindelwald must be salivating at what he can do with him in the future both to further his ends and to defeat and neutralize Dumbledore.

I’m remembering a quote by The Presence in which she told us in so many words: “Whatever you think at the end of the movie might not be the case”.  Classic narrative misdirection by the Master – as if fans of her books needed to be told there will be twists (here I think she was referring to plot and to character alliances).  Lastly, I read an interview of Jude Law in which he said, “for a reason I can’t divulge, they have this falling out” referring to Dumbledore and Grindelwald.  Law read all the books with his kids and we’ve known about Dumbledore’s explanation of the fight and Arianna’s death for a long time.  This can’t be the fact the actor is unable to divulge.  What further Dumbledore Family information does Rowling have in her brain that she has kept from us?

If you’re like me, you’ll be paying attention to everything Warner Brothers and Rowling release that might answer this question over the next three films, not to mention the discussion here at! Please write your first thoughts about my first impressions in the comment boxes below — or write your Guest Post review for us to read. I look forward to reading what you’re thinking!



  1. Kelly, thanks a lot for this detailed review. I agree with most of your points.
    I also enjoyed the movie – but only after I saw it for the second time in the original English version. I was simply too confused and angry during the first viewing. As I said elsewhere, it didn’t help that the German dubbing was very poor and distracting.
    Since I wasn’t so confused any more during the second viewing I could appreciate what the movie actually had to offer. And that’s a lot: overall great actors, visual beauty, some great beasts and and layers upon layers of intriguing and promising story lines! And I could detect a very elegant overall structure. Most plot lines didn’t pay off, yet. But I’m fairly sure that there was nothing unnecessary in the movie. Like in a good mystery novel everything was placed there for a reason which will become clear – eventually. JKR’s overall concept for this movie series is similar to her meticulous plot constructing in her books. And that is exactly the biggest problem of FB2! JKR’s narrative system isn’t entirely suitable for the silver screen. Not everyone who buys a movie ticket wants to delve deeply into the Potterverse in order to”get” everything. Especially if you have to wait several years in order to get plausible solutions! Unlike FB1, which IMO was a great stand-alone movie, the second film doesn’t have to offer a lot for those who just want to have a good time and watch a great movie. It was all about future developments and there was no compelling story in that movie. Just the promise of compelling stories…
    John said that only JKR and David Yates can get away with such a movie. I hope he is right! I’m not so sure that they can get away with it. A measly 40% positive rating at Rotten Tomatoes cannot be a good thing – even if the audience rating is much more positive. But not just the professional reviewers are very critical of the movie. There’s a very noisy faction of HP fans who grew up with the books. And they fear that their beloved canon will be destroyed. What JKR offers them now is very different in many ways from the Potter-universe they believed they knew. And they resent these changes and deconstructions, and they don’t transit easily into the FB world. To a certain degree I understand their sentiments. I felt the same after I had read “The Cursed Child”, which I really disliked for many reasons. And I decided to simply ignore and forget about it, although JKR (regrettably) declared it’s now part of the canon.

    I wonder if there will be repercussions and consequences for the upcoming movies. At least at the box office the movie seems to do well. So, there’s probably no acute danger that the series will be discontinued. But I hope that JKR will be able to go on with her story as she has envisioned it. And maybe, she needs help with further scripts. It would not hurt to offer a better movie experience in the future. I feel that a lot of the problems with the current movie could have been avoided or minimized without sacrificing the overall plot. As one frustrated reviewer said: there is a good movie in there – somewhere. I also feel that the movie should’ve been longer. It felt too rushed. I was exhausted after both viewings. I have a hunch that a lot of valuable material which would’ve made the plot more transparent, ended up on the cutting floor. And am I the only one who would have liked to see more of the magic circus?☺ One other small detail: the black CGI creatures which protect the French Ministry of Magic were – unlike all the other splendid creatures – very sloppily designed. They looked totally unfinished and ridiculous. And it makes me wonder if there was pressure to finish the movie on schedule. That would explain a few puzzling things…
    Kelly, I agree with you as far as the actors are concerned. Especially Jude Law is a woderful younger version of Dumbledore. I’m looking forward to see him shine in the upcoming installments. But I have to say that I hated all scenes with GrindelDepp. I just don’t like his version of Grindelwald. And I came to the conclusion that a lot of my antagonism has to do with his styling and his bizarre look! I hate that hair cut and that crazy eye! It distracts so much from what he has to say. I’m not overly crazy about his acting either but it’s not terrible at all. But I just cannot swallow how people can fall for him and his ideology. And that’s a big manko IMO. He should not be so over-the-top and transparently evil. Especially since I do think that we will discover eventually a remnant of heart and some redeeming qualities. I still think that Colin Farrell’s version was far superior and more credible. As to Ezra Miller’s Credence: so far I’m not crazy about him. He is still underdeveloped. They need to give him more to work with, and I’m sure it will happen. He’s in the center of it all. But so far he was more of an object. He did very few significant things. And unfortunately his connection and relationship with Nagini has apparently mostly ended up on the cutting floor, which is a pity.

  2. I wouldn’t have noticed this typo by Kelly if J.K. Rowling hadn’t made a big thing about it last summer when Donald Trump made the same mistake and incurred her wrath.
    “Pore” means to study or read something with great care. You’d pore over a textbook or a website; you could even pore over the details of an especially interesting dream you had the night before. “Pour” on the other hand, is something you do with a liquid.”

    Apart from that, Great stuff Kelly!!! (P.S. Hope JK Rowling doesn’t read this blog)

  3. @Dominic, why do you hope that JKR doesn’t read this blog?😉
    It would be terrific if she did! Here’s a lot of high quality stuff, and we are relatively mild mannered as far as the latest movie is concerned. Even a lot of Fan sites have savaged it.
    Thanks for you lecture on poring. I know what it means but I’m not sure if I would’ve written it correctly – and I hesitate to tell what my Germanizing autocorrection is doing with the word, who seem to think it has something to do with skin and pimples.

  4. The “falling out” that I am dying to see:
    After Kendra’s death, knowing Ariana to be too troubled to be allowed to live on, Grindelwald and Dumbledore conspire to attempt to create a Horcrux. They draw her out, and one of them kills her, making a horcrux. That horcrux is Fawkes. As she dies, Ariana’s Obscurus departs and is tracked years later to America, to its new host, Credence Barebone. The experience breaks Albus, he leaves Grindelwald, but he cannot relinquish Fawkes because of the connection to Ariana. Dumbledore lives the rest of his life knowing how deeply he was willing to embrace the dark arts, a truly tragic figure who lost love and succumbed to lust for power to the point of murder, yet who forever attempts to atone for his sins and ultimately finds redemption in Harry Potter. That would be delicious.

  5. @Sabine, It was just English humor saying ‘I hope JKR doesn’t read this blog.’ x

  6. Kelly Loomis says

    Wow Dominic, that is dark! Many people seem to be thinking Arianna is a piece of whatever happened to create Credence’s connection to the Dumbledore family. Credence having her obscurus enter into him at some point seems a prevalent thought. It’s the method that has so many different theories! I’ve been speculating that GG was trying to separate an obscurus at Dutmstrang. But maybe he was really trying to create a horcrux. And Dumbledore taking the books out of the Hogwarts library at some point had as much to do with GG as Voldemort.

  7. Kelly Loomis says

    Oops. Goodness, I keep making mistakes on names etc. It was Bob who suggested the horcrux. Wishing the last few days, a post was made quoting Rowling saying AD did not have a horcrux and was quite adamant and appalled someone suggested it. I’ll try to find it but i’ve been on so many things this week. So if one was made, it was GG who did it.

  8. Kelly Loomis says

    Tweet with Rowling debunking AD making a horcrux. Although this was specifically him making Fawkes the horcrux in question.

  9. Wayne Stauffer says

    On another aspect…am I the only one who watches the first two HP films trying to hear Michael Gambon saying Dumbledore’s words instead of Richard Harris? And now Jude Law saying those lines?

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