The Crimes of Grindelwald: A Movie Review

I’m a huge movie lover but reviewing films I’ve seen hasn’t been something I’ve done here before, mainly because I couldn’t be bothered writing an actual review. I’m more of the ‘watch it and move on’ type, even about movies that I enjoyed immensely.

But the sequel to Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them released this year, and as a self-confessed Potterhead, it was of course, priority number one to see the films that have expanded our view of the wizarding world of Harry Potter.

I also felt like I had things to say about the whole spin-off malarkey, and by the look of things on social media, many of you felt the same way.

So here we go.

Let’s start with me saying that I enjoyed the movie. I genuinely did.

I keep calling it a movie because I’m so used to seeing “movie” written down, although the Brit inside me is screaming “nooo, it’s a film!” Do forgive the interchangeable use of both terms in this post.

Back to the point at hand, it’s a good, enjoyable film that takes you into new, unexplored areas of the wizarding universe. But I do have a few gripes if I’m honest. Most of these are just personal gripes and I fully understand why these things were done the way they were; I just happen to think they could have been done differently, in a way that would add much more to the story.

I suppose the first issue is the lack of books. With Harry Potter we pretty much knew what was coming and how it would end; the thrill was just in seeing the Potterverse come to life. For me, the Harry Potter books provided all the backstory, the details of the thoughts and motivations behind each character and the actions they took. Clearly you can’t do that with a film unless you decide to have a narrator taking 9 hours to tell you everything.

But I think the lack of books ultimately made me feel that something was lacking with the film. As a standalone visionary piece of work, the film is great. My disappointment is that it could have been so much more, if only there had been books, particularly when it comes to developing a real relationship with the characters and rooting for them to win. As much as I love Newt, Harry will always have that #1 spot in my heart.

Secondly, Johnny Depp.

I’m wondering whether I need to explain this further so for any of you not in the know about the furore there, there is a helpful article here.

I do understand that he’s signed up to do the films, there are contracts in place and I assume financial penalties for the production company if they release him from the contract early.

Also, there’s the whole schtick about character continuity. Apart from Richard Harris dying after the second Harry Potter film, an entire generation has grown up seeing the same people play the same characters every time. It would be a bit much for the Potterverse if Depp was removed, although to my mind, he certainly should be.

Thirdly, Nagini. The Harry Potter fans are well aware that Nagini is the name of Voldemort’s pet snake but we are introduced to her backstory in The Crimes of Grindewald. Rowling tells us Nagini is a Maladictus, a person with a blood curse which ultimately renders the human an animal for the remainder of their life following an ability to shapeshift into a particular animal, earlier in life.

Nagini’s form is a snake, and the blood curse appears to affect Malaysians. The problem I have here is that whilst there may be some cultural truth to the legend/myth of the Maladictus in Asia, part of me is wondering (quite cynically) whether the casting of Nagini had anything to do with Rowling wanting to prove a point about diversity.

I am South Asian myself and I fully believe that popular culture in the West ought to reflect the diversity and plurality of Western populations. My problem is that we know Nagini is a subservient pet to Voldemort, and I feel a very uncomfortable link between old Orientalist tropes about submissive Asian women, and Nagini’s role in this film.

I’ll just leave that one there. Simply put, it gives me an icky feeling.

I have more gripes including the timeline being inaccurate where the young Professor McGonagall is concerned. She would have been a baby at the time the film is set, so how on earth she’s teaching Hogwarts students, goodness only knows. But there we go.

I have to say overall that the film in and of itself is good. It is worth watching if you can suspend your disbelief. I happen to be a total Potterhead so I picked up on things I didn’t like and things I felt didn’t fit, but I would recommend watching the film if the world of Harry Potter interested you.