A Magical Mess of Subplots: “Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes Of Grindelwald” Movie Review


Written by Mariam Esber, Journalist

Although “Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes Of Grindelwald” is visually compelling, the blockbuster film leaves many important questions unanswered.

The movie opens into an undisclosed American prison holding a revolutionary dark wizard, Gellert Grindelwald (Johnny Depp). MACUSA  (Magical Congress of the United States of America) agents then reveal that the British Ministry of Magic require Grindelwald’s immediate transportation to Europe, where he is expected to answer for his “crimes.” Even though Grindelwald’s dangerousness is heavily implied, the “crimes” he supposedly committed are barley mentioned. The only true insight the audience receives as to his belligerence is the fact that he believes in the supremacy of pure-blooded wizards and wishes to lead a revolution with the purpose of gaining control over both the wizarding and muggle (non-magic, aka no-maj) worlds. The reason why he must be transported to Europe is not mentioned, which raises the question: why can’t MACUSA officials deal with Grindelwald and his unrevealed crimes themselves? Besides, they seem to have handled him much more efficiently, as just as he is handed off to British aurors (magical law-enforcement agents) outside MACUSA headquarters in New York, he escapes with the aid of an English traitor.  

Despite the intriguing introduction, the plot’s strength fades slightly as the focus shifts from Grindelwald’s arc to the numerous sub-plots surrounding the other characters. The audience gains insight into the vaguely-depicted history between Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne)  and Lita LeStrange (Zoë Kravitz), as well as the unconfessed feelings between Scamander and American auror Porpentina Goldstein (Katherine Waterson).

The audience also gains insight into the “more than brotherly” relationship between young Albus Dumbledore (Jude Law) and Grindelwald, both of whom attended Hogwarts and, while there, made a blood pact that forbade them from ever fighting each other, as if Grindelwald knew that would someday be necessary. The blood pact forces Dumbledore to enlist Scamander to find Credence Barebone, a formidable obscurus (a powerful, parasitic force that results from continued abuse and suppression of magical power), before Grindelwald can gain access to his power, which, despite Scamander’s efforts, he does. Nagini, Voldemort’s Maledictus (a person plagued with a blood curse that will force he/she to permanently transform into a creature), who takes the form of a snake, is also introduced, though she appears to have a perfectly kind and vulnerable disposition.

Yet another subplot, the relationship between Jacob Kowalsky (Dan Folger), and Queenie Goldstein, is also focussed upon. The audience is shocked as Queenie, persuaded by Grindelwald’s charming rhetoric and propaganda, loses herself as she succumbs to the idea that Grindelwald can help her finally marry Kowalsky, a muggle (big no-no in the wizarding world). All-in-all, “Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes Of Grindelwald,” though wonderfully made,  was mainly a hodgepodge of subplots, all of which confused the watcher as to the true purpose of the movie.