Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Gindelwald is finally here!
In case you have no idea what this movie is or why we’re excited about it, we’re, first of all, judging you really hard right now. Secondly, let us fill you in, you muggle: The Fantastic Beasts series is the J.K. Rowling-penned prequel to the Harry Potter series, following Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne) and his fantastic beasts (mostly nifflers in this latest movie) as they haplessly wander around and somehow get mixed up in the bigger battle between good and evil raging on in the Wizarding World.
Our first adventure saw our hero traipsing around 1920’s New York with his charming pals (Tina, Queenie, and muggle Jacob) and his adorable animals. This second installment takes us to London and Paris, adding on Jude Law as Dumbledore and, oh yeah, way too much Johnny Depp as the titular character Gellert Grindelwald.
Joining Kelli and Emily to discuss this film is our friend and our outside Harry Potter expert/consultant, Grace Treutel — let’s get into this. There’s a lot to cover. Deep breaths, everyone.
PLEASE NOTE: This post has SO MANY SPOILERS. Continue at your own risk.
Grace: Okay, so this Grindelwald motherfucker.
Emily: Yes good start.
Kelli: Honestly I think that’s all we need.
Grace: Alright this has been great. Thanks for coming to my TED Talk. Okay but really what point should we start with? How about did you like the movie? Because if that’s the first question, my answer is YES.
Emily: Yes get us on track. I liked the movie also.
Kelli: Me too! I liked it as much as the first one, I think. Maybe slightly less because of the whole Johnny Depp situation.
Grace: I think I maybe liked this one a little bit more? Not to be contrary but. The first one had a lot of sort of build-up with plot crammed in the final act. Whereas this one had WAY TOO MUCH PLOT crammed into EVERY ACT, and I think of the lesser of two evils, I prefer the too much to too little. But I also 100% agree about the Johnny Depp situation. What a mess.
Wait, when you introduce me, can you call me an outside Harry Potter expert/consultant?
Emily: Yes, I already did.
Grace: Omfg there's a bucket list item struck off, thank you.
Emily: Put it on your resume.
Grace: Okay, but back to the plot: it was wild/too much going on, do y’all agree?
Emily: Yes, and I think that seems to be the critics’ consensus as well. As a Ravenclaw, I figured I should back this up with some research, so here are some articles where people complain about the wild and crazy plot: here’s one from Screen Rant about the plot holes. Here’s one about the terrible US opening. Here’s a YouTube video from Jenny Nicholson, one of my faves. TL;DR: Maybe J.K. Rowling isn’t great at writing screenplays.
Grace: My biggest takeaway outside of 'wow I loved being back in that world’ was ‘WOW I wish she had written this as a book series,’ and yeah, not as screenplays. Because this is a bit of a clusterfuck and she is excellent at books and I WANT the books.
Kelli: Yeah, like - I didn't really have a hard time following it because I'm knee deep in this series, but as an outsider I think it would be hard to understand what was going on.
Emily: I went to see this with my aunt, and she was so confused. But also she didn’t mind because nifflers.
Kelli: Yeah, I think every time my mom started to get lost the niffler made it okay.
Grace: Yeah, my husband Orie was pretty fuckin lost, I had to explain a lot to him about surnames and purism, etc. I do think that's the redeeming thing about these movies; even if you’re missing key details/confused, you do have a nice time because they've got enough cute/sweet stuff going on to redeem.
Emily: Also, it looks awesome, so there’s that.
Kelli: It's just so, for lack of a better term, magical
Grace: It DID look awesome, but I kind of hate how overtly visual the magic is. I never got that vibe from the books. ALTHOUGH it's a movie, so I know I’m being a nerdy asshole by being like 'wish it could've been more subtle.’
I just thought like, covering the little city square in gold to track was a bit much.
Emily: Oh yeah, well, in general the nifflers being there made no sense. They were just there to make people happy. Nifflers are the porgs of Harry Potter.
Grace: They so are. I saw someone say that on Twitter and I was like wow yes.
Emily: Dang, I thought I came up with that.
Grace: I’m just kidding. I never saw it before.
Kelli: Getting back to the visuals. There are parts of it that are a bit much, but the things that I love are the attention to detail, like the tiny visual flourishes, not necessarily the giant set pieces.
Grace: Yeah same! I like the little bits a lot!
Kelli: Like the little bowtruckle running after a smol button.
Grace: PICKETT! Pickett was so cute. I've long loved bowtruckles, but I also like this because like, in the actual Fantastic Beasts book they're super dangerous. They guard wand wood trees and they gauge out the eyes of anyone who comes too close. But in the movie it's this cute lil pal which… I secretly want him to gauge out Depp's eyes.
Emily: Do we want to just… dive in… to the Johnny Depp situation.
Grace: Yes, let’s dive in.
Kelli: Okay so. Here’s what I want to say.
Emily: Okay I want to hear what you want to say.
Kelli: As an adolescent, I was obsessed with Johnny Depp.
Emily: With Edward Scissorhands. Just a guess.
Kelli: But seriously, any movie he was in. I loved him so much. I thought he was the sexiest coolest man in the universe. And it truly breaks the 12-year-old inside me to see what he has become. Or maybe who he has been all along.
Grace: I understand. He has a Thing about him when you're 12 and don’t yet know what a douchebag is.
Grace: I totally sympathize, I was fucking into Captain Jack when I saw the first pirates at like, 12 or whatever. But I never really cared about him beyond that. And then any time he gives an interview I'm like... eugh.
Kelli: But I can't fully talk shit about him without acknowledging how much I loved him. I was such an Edward Scissorhands/Sleepy Hollow/Ed Wood/Spooky Johnnyfangirl bitch.
Grace: Hahahahahah Kelli it's okay to change your mind, I love you for being so open and vulnerable. This is a safe space.
Emily: I fell asleep during Pirates of the Carribean and never attempted it again.
Grace: Emily why are you like this?
Emily: I fall asleep a lot.
Grace: Okay fair point. I can respect that.
Emily: It’s kind of my thing.
Grace: What a thing to have. This is Emily, she sleeps.
Kelli: During movies, specifically.
Emily: Yes, in movies.
Grace: I WILL SAY that I feel like Grindelwald was, even in the books with his passing mentions, a pretty flagrant mirror to Hitler or other charismatic fascist leaders. And had they given the role to a different actor, we really could've seen like, a foil to Voldemort. A leader who didn't sow power by fear but by charm and promises, sort of like he did with Queenie.
Emily: Yes I feel like Depp didn't understand the role at all.
Grace: Grindelwald should have been slow and insidious, etc. But then Depp sort of... Depp'd it.
Emily: Yeah, he played Johnny Depp.
Grace: Like, he just botched it. He was super ham-fisted and that weird skull hookah thing with the cheap tie-in to WWII, like... There was the POTENTIAL for a lot of nuance and a lot of JKR-style character digging/unfolding. And we just got Johnny Depp's English accent for two hours, which. WHAT THE FUCK? He didn't even TRY to be German.
Kelli: Right, instead he was just like, look, I’m the bad guy. Every once and a while he sort of did a German accent.
Emily: Oh he did? I didn’t know.
Kelli: Or maybe I was just looking for it and he was slurring because he was probably drunk on set.
Grace: I also didn't notice one but I was also like. Actively rejecting it.
Kelli: But yeah - it's just really disappointing that Depp is in this movie. Because Rowling can act like an ally all she wants but the fact that she publicly defended him...
Grace: I ALSO take such issue with that! It really sort of underscores the ingenuity of the shit she's constantly tweeting. I DO believe her heart is in the right place but. This rubbed me the wrong way. And I unfollowed her on Twitter in a tiny useless act of rebellion.
Emily: I cannot bear to unfollow her on Twitter because I still want to love her
Kelli: Yeah, same.
Grace: Basically JKR likes to tweet and retweet a lot of very politically charged things, most of which are liberal-leaning, but she tends to sort of speak without knowledge on a lot of subjects. She has in the past donated a lot of money for very good causes and DOES raise awareness for things. But she also likes to interject herself in conversations that don't need her.
Kelli: I think she is doing what a lot of white people tend to do, which is massively overcompensate to respond to their criticism.
Grace: YES. That's a very concise/better way to put it.
Emily: I like both ways!
Grace: I will always love her but I honestly cannot handle reading her nonsense tweets. I'll love her from afar. The best sort of love.
Kelli: And a lot of it is in response, I think, to people criticizing her for not including more diversity in her booksSo I think she's trying to retroactively solve the problem but instead of solving it she's making it worse.
Grace: Yeah, I think so.
Kelli: But ALL OF THAT ASIDE, she cannot make it any better at all by being on the side of Johnny Depp. In case you don’t know what we’re talking about Johnny Depp and Amber Heard were married for two years, and at the end of their marriage, Amber Heard basically came out and said that Johnny Depp had physically assaulted her on multiple occasions
Grace: Yes, and even though he wasn't found guilty (right? he settled?) he is pretty vocally gross as a human being.
Emily: Right, and if you’re one of those people who doesn’t believe Amber Heard, ask yourself why. Do some soul searching.
Kelli: Right. Aside from the fact that there was PHYSICAL EVIDENCE. She had photographs of her wounds and was also seen with bruises on her face in public
Grace: Also, at the crux of it, Johnny Depp wasn't a good fit for this role in the first place. As was evidenced by that gentle morphing from current-Grindelwald to past-handsome-Germanic-Grindelwald.
Emily: Gindelwald is an iconic character and is supposed to be as powerful as Dumbledore, so... this isn't just some random dude
Grace: I know, and I feel like they did star power over actual fit for the role. It was Emma Watson as Belle all over again.
Kelli: Right. And if this movie had been coming out 15 years ago, maybe Depp would have been an okay choice? Because he still like... tried, back then?
Grace: Wait one of y’all liked Emma Watson as Belle, didn’t you? I redact my last statement.
Emily: OH LAWD don't get me started on Emma Watson as Belle.
Kelli: I LIKED HER. BUT THIS IS A SEPARATE THING.
Grace: Back to Grindelwald. I feel like Johnny Depp looks SO much older than Jude Law as Dumbledore. And that weird age gap is as irritating as James and Lily being cast as like 40 year olds, it throws EVERYTHING off.
Kelli: Which, by the way, Jude Law as Dumbledore could not have been more perfect.
Emily: Jude Law as Dumbledore is A+ and I will fight anyone who disagrees.
Grace: I agree. He was a good Dumbledore.
Emily: Oh phew. I was ready to fight.
Grace: I saw someone say he was 'lackluster' and I was like 'fuck u man' like I don't know how he could've been better.
Kelli: He was perfect. If someone says he was lackluster then they don't understand the character.
Emily: I WANTED MORE JUDE LAW. Hopefully JK will give the people what they want in the next movie and make it The Adventures of Jude Law as Dumbledore.
Grace: I have a feeling one of these movies is gonna be Jude Law Movie. Cuz she's GOT to center it around Dumbledore
Kelli: Please God.
Grace: I swear to God if they just keep up this fantastic beasts thing for the next 3 movies with the focus on Newt when this shit is going on… I will… ... still pay $12 per movie.
Emily: Hahahaha exactly.
Grace: But I will NOT BE AS HAPPY ABOUT IT AS I WOULD’VE BEEN. Although, side note, Newt is so lovable, they've done a great job with that character even if he SHOULD be a side character.
But goddamn Eddie Redmayne, I hope he never plays like, Stalin or something. Cuz I'll still sympathize with him/root for him. He’s just too good.
Kelli: I actually kind of dig it that Newt is the main character, if only because he's so far from the hero archetype we're used to.
Emily: He and his little friend group are so lovable. That’s how I felt after the first movie. Like, aw, these are just sweet people.
Kelli: Yeah exactly. Which reminds me, I want to talk about Queenie.
Emily: Okay, do it.
Kelli: How did you guys feel about her turn?
Emily: I didn’t really believe it.
Kelli: Yeah, me neither.
Emily: Because her whole thing is empathy right?
Kelli: At first I thought it was gonna turn out that the random French bitch had polyjuiced as her, and that was why she was acting that way in the stadium.
Grace: So, I dont mean to like, divert, but i think it ties neatly into like… The fact that with these amazing characters, like Queenie and Leta, we get so little time to connect with them. So MAYBE Queenie's turn was justified? Or made sense? But I didn't see it. I was just sort of confused and left thinking 'okay, that was cheap.’ And Tina’s complete lack of reaction to it. I know she was busy, but her sister just got seduced by a SERIOUSLY dark wizard, and she's just like 'newt cmon bby.’
Kelli: I'm so fucking mad that Leta is already dead. Like, are you really gonna waste Zoe like that?????
Emily: I don’t think Leta is dead yo.
Kelli: I really hope you’re right, Emily.
Grace: Yeah they didn't do nearly enough with Leta; it was such a missed opportunity. I HOPE she isn't dead but I feel like I hope that just like I HOPE that wasn't Minerva McGonagall.
Emily: Oh yeah are we going there now. So many places to go.
Grace: But I'm 90% sure that's just me being hopeful and desperate and not accepting the fact that... this shit makes no sense.
Kelli: Yeah, having McGonagall in this movie is too big a plot hole and they're gonna have to fix it.
Grace: So I get that it could be a relative since she kept her maiden name when she got married so there ARE more magical McGonagalls. BUT. What a CHEAP FUCKING GRAB, even if it is a relative.
Emily: There were a lot of cheap grabs in this movie. The most obvious one was the nifflers. Like, there was no need to bring nifflers on this adventure. But somehow a niffler saved the day in the end. And yet I was like "I'm okay with this because they're cute." BUT I KNEW WHAT THEY WERE DOING.
Kelli: Yeah, I have no problem with that TBH. Nifflers for life.
Emily: You best believe I looked up Niffler merch when I got home. I LOVE PORGS AND I LOVE NIFFLERS.
Kelli: Everyone can fuck off.
Emily: I WANT TO SLEEP ON A BED OF NIFFLERS AND PORGS.
Grace: I also love nifflers. Also, speaking of cheap grabs, I get pulling heartstrings but Flamel was criminally underused. On the one hand I'm glad they didn't introduce 100 new characters cuz we barely had time for the ones they did, but on the other hand spending time with Flamel when he really didn’t do much just felt like... insincere? Is that the right word? There was no reason but fanservice to throw in McGonagall (my blood pressure is rising again) and Flamel.
Kelli: Right, and it's just like, do we really need fan service at this point when this entire series is fan service? The fact that these movies exist is fan service.
Grace: Can that be a pull quote? Because it’s so dead on.
Emily: Yes, I just made that the title. #meta
Grace: "Do we really need fan service when this entire series is fan service" is gonna be tattooed on my ass.
Kelli: I've always wanted to be quoted on someone's ass.
Grace: Okay, what other subjects do we need to cover? Queenie’s legilimency makes me rage. What the fuck is that shit, she can just be sort of near someone and know their every thought? Youre supposed to be LOOKING IN THEIR EYEBALLS making an EFFORT and she's like 'woopsie read your mind again.’
Emily: But it was like that in the first movie.
Grace: I know, but I was reminded. I was angry ANEW. But you’re right, no point in commenting on it again.
Emily: No, it’s fine. We weren't here to comment on the first movie.
Kelli: Does she just happen to have a particularly strong sense of it? It seems like for her it's actually a problem, and not a talent/skill.
Grace: Yeah it's true but it also once again goes against established canon. Because in the books Snape is like 'even the strongest legilemens cant read it like a book, it requires skill and eye contact' etc (paraphrasing). And so if she was a very naturally talented legilimens, she should still have to focus/theyd be aware. Or maybe not aware, but you know what I mean.
Emily: Right. I just figured she was an anomaly
Kelli: Same. Like it's an illness.
Emily: That's kind of how I explained it to myself.
Grace: Okay maybe I will get in with y’all then and just accept this for what it is.
Kelli: Especially since in this film it's like - she's really offended when Jacob calls her crazy
Emily: Like, this isn't normal. It's weird that she can do this.
Kelli: Like it seems like a parallel to mental illness
Grace: OKAY GUYS I GET IT. I’M BEING TOO HARD ON QUEENIE.
Kelli: But maybe I just like her and I don't care because I like her.
Grace: It’s okay. I still love her. I’m just mad at JKR.
Kelli: I’m always mad at JKR. Before we wrap this up, should we talk predictions? Where do we see this series going? is it going to get better or worse?
Grace: One thing i predict for SURE is that they do not show Dumble and Grindel ever doing more than staring intensely into each others eyes. Even though we all know they fucked.
Kelli: CLOSER THAN BROTHERS.
Emily: Oh yeah, I was surprised they showed as much as they did.
Grace: That SENSUAL hand grip. 'brothers aint do the shit we do knowmsayin' - Dumbledore
Emily: Plus Dumbledore sees Grindelwald in the Mirror of Erised…
Kelli: The only thing that makes you closer than brothers is actual dick exchange.
Emily: Now I’m just picturing them actually swapping dicks. Like swapping presents. But dicks.
Kelli: They probably did tbh. They're gay wizards. Who knows what the fuck they get up to.
Grace: I also predict (HOPE!!!) that Grindelwald is lying, Aurelio Dumbledore doesn't exist, and he's still somehow Corvus Lestrange. That’s what I really want. If they do some shit where he's Ariana's lost twin I'm gonna screech.
Kelli: That’s too many lost babies for one series. Couldn’t he just be a Dumbledore cousin?
Grace: I think in Life and Lies it says that was his only family. But I might be wrong. I have been before.
Kelli: I hope they cast Ariana Grande as Ariana.
Grace: I hope they cast Pete Davidson as anything.
Emily: And that's how they will reunite. In the next FB movie. That’s my big prediction.
But seriously. I am very concerned for the future of these movies because I think people are losing patience with JK and her shenanigans. Which saddens me but also I don't blame them.
Kelli: Yeah, same. This movie opened worse at the box office than any of the previous films and I feel like things are only going to get worse from here, especially if Johnny Depp remains on board.
Emily: Yeah, Johnny Depp as Grindelwald in the first movie was the worst reveal in movie history.
Kelli: Alexander Saarsgard should have been Grindelwald.
Emily: Ooooh yes girl.
Kelli: He's from Sweden, CLOSE ENOUGH.
Emily: I feel like they had a chance to fix it, but now that he’s been in a whole movie, it’s too late.
Kelli: They easily could have reversed it, or put him in polyjuice for the whole movie. Or something. ANYTHING.
Emily: Yes, and now Grindelwald will forever be linked to Johnny Depp. Which is so disappointing. Even aside from all the crap he’d done recently, I feel like with the past movies, they tried really hard not to cast anyone who had too much celebrity personality attached to their brand.
Kelli: That’s gone out the window at this point.
Emily: So even if he was still popular, he's Johnny Depp before he's any character.
Kelli: I hope he dies ASAP and Ezra can take over the bulk of the villain role.
Emily: Yeah, except we know he doesn’t die because he’s alive in the 7th Harry Potter book. NOT THAT CONTINUITY MATTERS ANYMORE.
Kelli: To end on a positive note, I like basically everyone else in the movie.
Emily: Same. I gave this movie a 3.5 on Letterboxd.
Kelli: Out of 5?
Emily: NO OUT OF 100. JK out of 5.
Kelli: I think I’d give it a 3. Subtract .5 for Johnny Depp.
Grace: That’s fair. Guys, I’ve gotta go, but you’re both diamonds in the rough, and I love y’all. This has been so fun.
Emily: Thanks so much for coming on as a Harry Potter consultant, Grace, since clearly Kelli and I have no experience or knowledge about Harry Potter whatsoever and needed your expertise. That was sarcasm, btw. We know our shit. But we love you and we love all the HP knowledge and nerdiness you added to the mix.
Emily: WELL THAT HAS BEEN OUR REVIEW.
Kelli: It was roughly as cohesive as the film.
Emily: What did you think about this movie? LET US KNOW IN THE COMMENTS!!!