Warning: Here Be Spoilers!
So, The Crimes of Grindelwald.
First off, I didn’t hate it. I didn’t exactly like it, but I didn’t hate it. It seemed very much an interim story that was just setting up plot points to be explored in the future films. And much of it seemed pointless. For example, there was little reason for Jacob’s presence in Paris, much as I love the character. If the idea was to set up a reason for Queenie to join Grindelwald(!), it could have been accomplished in a much less jolting way than having her slip her poor Muggle honey-bun a love potion and making the poor guy tag along like a piece of toilet paper stuck to Newt’s shoe while the other characters do the real work of the movie.
Maybe the whys and wherefores of all the seemingly tacked-on stuff will be explained in the next films. I hope so.
Stuff Wot I Liked
1. Eddie Redmayne. He’s a terrific actor, and I love what he does with Newt. As the parent of a neurodivergent kid, I like the way Newt is coded as Autistic without making it a Big Thing. I’d love to hear the opinions of some Actually Autistic folks on Redmayne’s portrayal.
2. The CGI.
3. Jude Law. He captures the essence of how I imagine a middle-aged Dumbledore to be. (But when did he go from being a gray-suit guy to a purple-spangles guy? The wizarding 1970s must have been very different from my 1970s.)
4. The blood pact between Dumbles and Grindelwald. It helps answer the burning question of why Dumbles waited SO LONG (46 years!) to confront and defeat Grindelwald. It also nicely ties in with the theme of blood protection that was so important in the original HP books. There’s a lot to this blood magic thing, it seems. Of course, I’ve used the same theme extensively in the Epithalamium series, so I might be biased, but it made me squee.
Stuff Wot I Didn’t Like So Very Much
1. The stupid “romance” between Newt and Tina is very, very strained. And not just because there was a typo in a newspaper. (Valuable Life Lesson: editors not only save lives, they can save romances.) It didn’t work for me in the first movie, and it works even less in this one. Not every story needs a central romance, and the scenes that deal with it in CoG just bog down a movie that’s already a little long and overburdened with plot threads.
2. Too many potentially interesting characters get introduced and then, mostly, ignored. The Auror who helps Grindelwald escape, Grindelwald’s other sidekicks, Theseus… even Nagini is mostly arm candy, FFS. And just when we finally meet Leta Lestrange and get some backstory (which also felt like an oh, yeah… this happened moment), she burns up. Yes, I’m sure we’ll find out more about all of this in the coming films but shoving them all into this one just makes me feel like Dug the Dog in Up.
3. The art direction. It was beautiful, it evoked the time period wonderfully, and it certainly suggested that things in the world are turning darker. But it did nothing to suggest any differences between the magical and Muggle worlds. In fact, it was difficult to tell wizards and Muggles apart. Yes, the wizards need to hide in plain sight, but JKR made so much of wizards’ inability to quite master Muggle fashion in the HP books—which was nicely done in the films, too—that it seems odd that they’re indistinguishable from Muggles here. Same for the wizarding locations in Paris, moving statue notwithstanding. It sucks a little of the magic out of the film for me.
4. Timeline fuckery. Okay, so I’m hoping that JKR didn’t just ignore the original HP timeline so she could give Albus a long-lost half-brother (more on that in a moment). Dumbledore’s parents both should have been dead before Credence was born, and I can’t quite believe that JKR would throw that fact away just to create a “holy shit!” plot twist at the very end of CoG.
On the other hand, I can’t think of a single good reason for the McGonagall cameos, unless there’s some weird kind of time-turner plot to be revealed later.
5. The aforementioned Queenie-gives-Jacob-a-love-potion-and-joins-Grindelwald thing. Unlike some folks, I don’t think it’s a terrible thing for the story, but If a character is going to go this off-the-rails, it needs a much more careful set up. As it stands, it feels very much as if the Queenie plot was inserted just to provide a reason for Tina and Jacob to show up in the next films, and I’ve already ranted about how wasted those characters seem to me. Grrr.
6. The blood pact between Dumbles and Grindelwald. (Yes, I know I just said I liked it, but bear with me.) I like the idea of it, but when, exactly, did they make this pact that prevents them from acting against one another? Because they supposedly dueled each other the day Ariana was killed, and I can’t see them getting cozy enough to make the blood pact after that.
Stuff Wot I’m Conflicted About
1. The Dumbledore-Grindelwald relationship. Yes, I would have liked them to be less coy about it, but if wizarding society was anything like Muggle society in the 1920s, it’s easy to see why Dumbledore wouldn’t admit outright to a sexual relationship with a man. But, given the relationship’s centrality to the plot, it would have been nice to see something more telling than a hand-touch in Dumbledore’s private memories and a wink-wink-nudge-nudge line about “closer than brothers.” It feels distressingly like the Fantastic Beasts franchise is trying to get brownie points for inclusion without actually including.
(Life-defining love? And Dumbledore in a gray suit. Nuh-uh.)
2. The Credence-Dumbledore connection. I hope that this goes in the direction that Reddit user couscous01080326 lays out: that Credence’s Obscurus was previously Ariana Dumbledore’s Obscurus, which is why both Grindelwald and Dumbledore are so desperate to get hold of him. It’s a much better motivation than just wanting to get their hands on a magical meat-weapon, given all the other weapons available to a pair of powerful wizards.
So, them’s my initial thoughts on CoG.
Anything to add?