I spotted Tor’s coverage of this recently. Mitchell and I talked it over a bit, and then I cobbled together a post about it.
Spoilers under the cut, obviously.
So here’s our title. I was surprised that we’re jumping straight to Grindelwald, given that this is going to leave us with three other films afterwards. Presumably one will be the first Voldemort war, and sadly I suspect one will be the Marauders-era prequel many of us hoped wouldn’t happen, but who knows what the other one will be.
The more observant amongst you will notice that the Deathly Hallows appear in the logo above. We couldn’t decide if we like this or hate it. [Also why is the G being used for the circle, surely they could have used the perfectly serviceable O in ‘of’ instead? Not that that’d have necessarily been much better, but adding weird visual design choices to this poorly chosen title certainly doesn’t help.]
My main issue with the title is that the two halves are unrelated. Newt and his critters have absolutely nothing to do with Grindelwald, Dumbledore and the main HP canon. The fact that they awkwardly forced Grindelwald into the plot of the last film does not make an actual link. As we’ll see shortly, they have tried very very hard to make them relevant, but I don’t think it worked.
That said, I’m not upset about it because I would rather watch Eddie Redmayne and his pals running around than the wizard Nazis the film is actually about.
The other issue with the title is that it’s just plain bad. As Mitchell put it, “Would anyone make a film about World War Two titled ‘The Crimes of Hitler’?”
On to the cast.
Yay, Jacob’s back! I don’t know how, precisely, but he was my favourite and the resolution to his plotline sucked so I’m going to let that one go.
We can’t forgive Credence coming back, though. He died at the end of the first film and didn’t have plot armour to save him. Mitchell’s reaction says it all: “THE SECOND FILM IN A 5-FILM SERIES IS ALREADY RETCONNING THE ENDING OF THE FIRST ONE. HOW DO YOU WRITE.”
[Thanks ever so much for copying the capslock, dear, I’m endlessly grateful for the way you make me look like a sane person. That said… thinking about it, I suppose it’s theoretically possible they’re just using him for flashbacks or something? That sensible explanation doesn’t seem likely though, as a Pottermore article linked in the comments at Tor is claiming he survived all along (some “black wisp” could apparently be seen escaping, or something). If so, that’s just bad cinematography and deliberate misleading of the audience.]
I am giving some extreme side-eye to the return of Absolutely-Not-Serafina-Pekkala (Seraphina Piquery). It’s not as if the MACUSA president played much of a role in the previous film, and unless I’m missing something Grindelwald mostly stayed in Europe – I believe much of this film is going to be set in France. When a character is the only non-white person visible, it’s hard not to call tokenism.
Jude Law as Dumbledore… eh, sure, whatever. Doesn’t look quite right to me – his hair and beard are meant to be auburn, for a start – but fine. Grindelwald, on the other hand, has clearly wandered in from another franchise. That’s not a Potterverse wizard, even an evil insane one. I thought the same at the end of the first film but he was onscreen so briefly it wasn’t worth caring about. Leaving aside the real-world issues with Depp, he is obviously here playing himself. He’s not playing Grindelwald, he’s playing a Tim Burton character with a bit of Captain Jack thrown in. The entire aesthetic of his character is so jarringly wrong that it stands out even to me, usually blind to that sort of thing.
Another problem with a film featuring Dumbledore and Grindelwald, of course, is the queerbaiting. We know now that Dumbledore was gay and in love with Grindelwald. Grindelwald’s orientation remains unknown, but it’s likely he would have demonstrated something, whether sincere or an attempt to manipulate his friend. I bet we will not see this in the film. There will be maybe one or two hints, in between scenes of one or both of them flirting with women. [My expectations are not high, given what we saw in Cursed Child. That said, there’s honestly no good way to win here, because if they did actually lean into portraying the relationship it could end up implying “being gay makes you evil”… though they could salvage that by also including another homosexual couple portrayed positively haha who am I kidding when do they ever have more than one unless it’s billed as a gay film.]
Which leads us neatly into the horror of romantic sub-plots. Two new characters join the cast – Newt’s brother Theseus, and his fiancée Leta Lestrange, Newt’s ex or at least former crush.
Enough said. You can all see the inevitable trash fire. Even though Newt himself told Tina in the previous film that he was over it and it didn’t matter. Sigh. (Just leave Jacob and Queenie alone, they’re cute.)
[Fantastic Beasts, the film series in which we’re apparently going to ignore all of the actual fantastic beasts in future instalments to focus on endless speculation about beasts with two backs instead. (I am so sorry but I had to do it.)]
Someone somewhere remembered the Fantastic Beasts part of the title and hastily scribbled something down – one of the women above will be playing an as yet unnamed female character who is a Maledictus, someone with a hereditary curse causing them to turn into a beast. No it’s nothing like a werewolf how dare you suggest such a thing. I assume this will occupy perhaps five minutes of the film.
As for what’s going to take up the small corner of the film left between all the bickering and emotions… according to Tor, “the centre plot will revolve around Grindelwald’s escape from custody and Newt enlisting Dumbeldore to help stop the dark wizard as he amasses more followers.”
Seriously, it has fuck-all to do with Newt, who honestly probably wouldn’t care unless Grindelwald threatened to build his evil lair in a monster’s habitat. It makes Dumbledore look pretty shitty as well, he only stirs himself to maybe try and stop Wizard Hitler because a former student begged and/or nagged him? Why didn’t they make another Newt film about him chasing monsters with his friends, because that was fun, and then do the main canon war thing separately?
Also Nicolas Flamel is in the film somewhere, because reasons. I guess they didn’t quite have enough white men onscreen. [Hey, it’s actual continuity! Someone remembered he should have existed and mattered before Dumbledore’s stupidity “accidentally” got him killed! Have some partial credit.]
In conclusion, this promises to be a total mess, without much hope of the charm that somewhat salvaged the first one. Got to keep that cash cow limping along somehow.