Like many millennials, Harry Potter and his courageous quest beckoned me at the oddest and most inopportune moments of my life, moments when I wanted to escape the mundane (muggle) reality of my life. Harry and his friends were endearingly familiar, Rowling’s magical universe iconic.
I had my reservations when a new prequel to the Harry Potter series was planned starting with the Fantastic Beasts movie released in 2016. Did Rowling do a Dolores Umbridge when she decided to preserve what must be preserved, perfect what can be perfected with the new movie franchise? But I was thankful when Fantastic Beasts (2016) did justice to the series.
We learnt about new magical creatures, new dark forces such as an obscurial and Eddie Redmayne totally rocked as Newt Scamander though it did feel like he had a touch of ADD with his body language in the movie.
The Crimes of Grindelwald, a much anticipated sequel to Fantastic Beasts (2016) definitely lived up to my expectations. I was excited to see a much younger Dumbledore take center stage once again. The helplessness of Queenie (whose radiant smile from the 2016 movie was missing in this sequel) was evident while trying to hold on to No-Maj Jacob’s love. All the characters from the Fantastic Beasts (2016) movie is back including Johnny Depp’s Grindelwald.
If you haven’t seen the 2016 movie, now is the time to stop, go watch the movie and come back before reading more.
If you are a true Potter fan of all things in the HP universe, you’ll love this movie with its special effects and the back story as to how the world Harry Potter resided came into being. However, I had a few disappointments with the way the plot was woven compared to the 2016 movie. Below are the highlights:
- Katherine Waterston’s Tina Goldstein is back to being an Auror but is pushed to the sidelines for most of the movie.
- Jude Law mesmerizes as Dumbledore though at one point I almost felt angry at Newt’s character for turning down Dumbledore’s request to travel to Paris, though he does travel at a later point to follow Tina.
- We are introduced to Nicholas Flamel in Paris (Remember the alchemist who created the Philosopher’s Stone in HP!?) but I was on tenterhooks whenever he appeared as he seemed exceedingly fragile and breakable due to his extreme age even though I knew he is unharmed until Harry finishes his first year at Hogwarts.
- For someone who loves Johnny Depp’s quirky characters in other movies such as the mad Hatter in Alice in Wonderland, I was left with a curious sense of letdown with the part he plays in this movie as I was expecting him to play a much larger role in style. But Depp as always, doesn’t fail to entertain though I was left with a sense of a less evil Voldemort clone in Grindelwald.
- Credence, the boy who turns into a Obscurial in the 2016 film is back, this time on a quest of his own. The stage is already set for the next movie installment with Credence’s past as the main theme for all the events to happen (or already happened when viewed from the HP time line)
- I had one super fun moment in the movie when I learnt the back story of why Dumbledore has a Phoenix till the end of his life and how he alone (as far as we know) of the wizarding world has one.
- Other parts of the movie which brought a smile to my face were the sequences such as the one where a niffler helps Newt to trace Tina’s presence in Paris, the bowtruckle introduced as Newt’s pet in the 2016 movie is adorably described by Newt as having ‘attachment issues,’ and the one where an ape like creature with a dragon like, scaled (?) tail helps Newt & Tina escape from sticky situations. These sequences are where the movie seems really magical (if you’ll pardon my pun here).
- The slight humour in certain parts of the movie like the one where a teenaged Newt’s biggest fear is shown as an administrative job when confronted with a Boggart tickled me.
In conclusion, The Crimes of Grindelwald is fun, magical and a good watch for all you HP lovers out there. But I can’t help feeling that the gut connect and root-for-Harry feeling from the HP franchise is some how missing in this one. Eddie Redmayne as Newt is likable without inspiring HP fervour, Tina is somehow diminished as compared to the 2016 movie and Queenie is a slight disappointment. I expect the movie to make commercial success as all the other movies in the franchise as the movie is after all quite endearing with its likable characters and ensemble cast.
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars