The legacy that lived

Grace Dekoker, Editor-in-Chief

I’m not saying that I’m the biggest Harry Potter fan on this staff, but you’d be hard-pressed to find someone who’s read the series over 20 times, who can name specific chapters that events happen in, and is a proud owner of an Ollivander’s wand. When “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find” them originally debuted, I was thrilled. Eddie Redmayne is one of my favorite actors, and any extension of the Harry Potter series made my heart sing. The movie was magical, bringing me back to my 8-year-old self, discovering the Wizarding World for the first time.

I subsequently had high hopes for the “Crimes of Grindelwald,” which featured scores of new terminology and twisting plotlines. For many, such a barrage of new information definitely would have been confusing. While the movie definitely held my interest and captivated me, I have to say I was somewhat disappointed when the credits began to roll.

“The Crimes of Grindelwald” is the second in a five-movie series, featuring the Wizarding World on an international scale. The film kicks off with an elaborate ruse where the new villain is able to escape his imprisonment and head to Europe. Newt Scamander is tasked by a young, (dare I say) dashing Dumbledore to find Grindelwald and end his reign of terror. Along the way, several subplots are introduced, all culminating in a final battle scene that gave me goosebumps.

Throughout the film, old and new characters fly in and out. I appreciated seeing characters such as the lovable, clumsy muggle/no-mag Jacob Kowalski (Dan Fogler) pine for his wizarding fiance Queenie Goldstein (Alison Sudol) and search for her sister Tina (Katherine Waterson), a magical law officer. The subplots revolve around characters’ family history, Credence’s search for an identity and Grindelwald’s growing power.

I was riveted by the plot, though my devotion and knowledge of the Potter-verse definitely helped. Many fans were confused, and easily so- there was little explanation to anything. The movie was a whopping 134 minutes, and though the length allowed for increased build-up, there wasn’t much that was built up to. The entire film seemed to be an exposition for the third installment, and it seemed as if there was a lot of information being thrown at viewers. New terms weren’t explained, and family trees were twisting and interlinking characters who the audience hardly knew. The movie jumped from scene to scene without much explanation, and left many strings untied.

Despite the choppiness of the plot, individual scenes were smooth and filled with magic. Director David Yates did a phenomenal job incorporating the soundtrack to each moment, and the music was a phenomenal accompaniment to fantastic acting. The original Harry Potter movies were so well cast, and that continues in the new series: each character is well-cast and plays their role perfectly.

What I really loved about this movie was the rise of a new villain- Gellert Grindelwald. Portrayed by a blond Johnny Depp, this new antagonist is set on allying pure-blood wizards against humans, mirroring some of the racism seen in the world today. A movie is only as good as it’s villain, and while Voldemort was bone-chilling and evil to his core, he was motivated by his own selfish desires for immortality. Grindelwald wants a revolution, an uprising against the muggles that have forced witches and wizards to hide their magic, and believes those with magical blood are superior to those without.

There are definite motifs and themes that relate to the political world today, and anyone who follows JK Rowling on Twitter knows where her political beliefs stand. Furthermore, Grindelwald has a history with Dumbledore, the two having been canonically confirmed as being lovers in their youth. The interaction as Grindelwald goes dark and Dumbledore fights for the light is fascinating, and I can’t wait to see it play out in the next three movies.

Overall, I really enjoyed the movie, but I can accept that it has some pretty important flaws. I definitely think that it was leading up to the third installment in the series, and I‘m staying optimistic that much of the build-up will come to fruition in the third movie. I give it a solid four out of five paws.