My most anticipated movie of 2018 has been completely worth the two year wait! To say that Crimes of Grindelwald was different is an understatement. There is an intense darkness about it that very much sets it apart from the preceding film. There are at least three different storylines being told and are only brought together until the very end. Oh, there's new characters too...quite a few new characters, but all were great and added so much to growing Wizarding World of the 1920's-1930's.
Newt Scamander and Tina Goldstein
Several months after his escapade in New York City and the capture of Gellert Grindelwald, magizoologist, Newt Scamander has become a literary success with the release of his manuscript, "Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them." However, while Newt has made headlines for his work, he has also caused a great deal of strain on the Ministry of Magic for (what they consider) reckless behavior in New York and revoke his international travel license. His only chance of being able to travel internationally is if he works for the Ministry in his brother's security department. Newt's greatest fear is working for any establishment and turns them down.
To add to this stress. Newt's former Hogwarts's professor, Albus Dumbledore has tasked him with finding Credence Barebone, who survived his attack in New York, and also to hunt down Grindelwald who has escaped from the Ministry of Magic. Newt rejects any idea of choosing sides and wants to be left alone to care for his creatures. Yet, he comes to his senses when he finds that Tina Goldstein has been working undercover in Paris, also searching for Credence. If anyone can get Newt to come out of his suitcase, it's Tina.
Newly reinstated Macusa Auror, Tina Goldstein, has been in search of young Credence Barebone, still feeling responsible for not being able to save him in New York. Tina manages to track him down in Paris, but she soon finds herself captured in the Paris sewers. She is then is rescued by none other than Newt Scamander. While Tina is happy at Newt's return, she harbors resentment for him after reading an inaccurate magazine article claiming Newt to be engaged to his former best friend. So, Tina sets her feelings aside for Mr. Scamander and sets to work on finding Credence before Grindelwald or anyone else does.
Albus Dumbldore and Gellert Grindelwald
Known to the Wizarding World as 'The greatest wizard of all time,' Albus Dumbledore is remembered by Harry Potter fans as a wise, grey bearded, 100 something year old Headmaster of Hogwarts School and a man with many secrets.
60 years prior to the Boy Who Lived, Albus Dumbledore's story is finally being told. Before becoming the charming elderly headmaster, Albus Dumbledore was the handsome Defense Against the Dark Arts professor, known for his easy going manner, a favorite among the students and a kindly, protective father figure to the lost and lonely.
He is also known to be a menace; forever undermining the authority of the Ministry of Magic or any other authority for that matter. Yet, when it comes to Gellert Grindelwald, sometimes having a menace could work in their favor, especially since Dumbledore has quite the past history with Grindelwald. When asked to help fight Grindelwald, Dumbledore says he can't, but doesn't elaborate on why. Believing Dumbledore to be behind Newt Scamander's behavior in New York, subsequent disappearance to Paris, and now his refusal to aid them, the Ministry puts Albus under arrest.
During his house arrest, Albus contemplates his life decisions and shows a quality to Dumbledore, no one has ever seen. Fear. Fear of his own reckless actions, past mistakes and never truly able to make right with who he has wronged. Although unable to fight Grindelwald himself, Dumbledore has faith that Newt's strength of character will end Grindelwald and finally free him from his guilt ridden past.
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Upon escaping from prison, Gellert Grindelwald wastes no time in gathering his followers to Paris to finally set in place his plan for the uprising of all magical persons. Conniving, but charming, Grindelwald has the ability to manipulate people's weaknesses and gain their trust, by taking advantage of them in their most vulnerable and lowest state. Unlike Voldemort who raged and ruled with terror and fear, Grindelwald uses emotion and even truth to gain support and respect.
Believing those of the Wizarding World to be superior to non magic people, Grindelwald holds the non-magic responsible for the downfall of humanity. He shows his followers future visions of a horrific second world war, machines of destruction, rounding up of people to camps and a world wide explosion all waged by the non magic; and if they are not stopped, many will perish in the decades to come. Grindelwald wants all magic kind to know his desire to save the world from possible destruction; but to do so, there must be subjugation and rule over the non-magic and the understanding that he himself can be the last hope for humanity.
Queenie Goldstein and Jacob Kowalski
After being separated for a time, Queenie the legilimens and Jacob the no-maj reunite and leave America to head to Europe. They arrive in England where relationships between magical and non magic people are permitted and their laws infinitely more progressive. However, when they arrive at Newt's home, it's revealed that Queenie has put Jacob under a powerful love potion with the intent of marrying him. When set free from the potion, Jacob informs Queenie that even thought he loves her and wants to be with her, he can't allow her to thrown her life away.
Angry at Jacob, Queenie leaves and heads to Paris to find her sister, but gets lost in despair and depression. Without Tina, Queenie is alone and unprotected, but soon finds herself face to face with her former enemy, Gellert Grindelwald. Like always, Grindelwald plays upon Queenie's intense emotional state and leads her to believe that she can be useful to him for the bettering of their world. Queenie must now choose between her former life as a force of peace and goodness or entering Grindelwald's ideology of domination for 'the greater good.'
Meanwhile, Jacob teams up with Newt to find Tina and hopefully Queenie, but ends up getting more than he bargained for once again. Having to endure a portkey, jailed in the Paris sewers, meeting a wizarding legend, being held hostage in a cemetery and eventually right in the midst of Grindelwald's Paris gathering, Jacob continues to have his best friend's back and aiding him in any way he can while still trying to find the love of his life, whom he fears he may have lost to her own enemy.
Credence Barebone and Nagini
Having miraculously survived his obscurial destruction in New York a year before, Credence Barebone has traveled to Europe to discover who he is. It is rumored that he is Corvus Lestrange, a child of a pureblood family thought to be dead, but if found alive, could be the completion of an age old prophecy. While in Paris, Credence befriends Nagini, a side show attraction at a low end wizarding circus. Nagini is a maledictus, she carries a female blood curse that forces her to transform into a beast and in time her animal form as a viscous snake will become permanent.
When Credence finds a possible lead to his mother, he and Nagini escape only to meet a dead end and Grindelwald himself. Finally ensnaring the boy he has been searching for, Grindelwald offers Credence a chance to truly know who and what he is. Desperate for any answers at all, Credence follows Grindelwald not knowing what is truly planned for him.
Theseus Scamander and Leta Lestrange
Theseus Scamander, war hero, head auror of the Ministry of Magic, engaged to Leta Lestrange and overprotective older brother to New Scamander...also a hugger. Theseus is desperate to keep his brother out of trouble and wants Newt to join him at the ministry, working in his division. While Newt balks at the idea of conforming to the establishment, Theseus believes that he can do good for the establishment if given the opportunity by both his superiors and his brother. Ambitious without being power hungry, romantic, but not sentimental, Theseus does not dwell on his life during the war that made him a hero, but focuses on ending Grindelwald before everything he loves is taken away.
The only bright spot in Theseus' life is his beautiful fiancee, Leta Lestrange. Although gifted with many talents, Leta's whole life has been one of loneliness and neglect. The product of a manipulated marriage that caused bad blood between two families, Leta grew up unwanted by her own family and neglected by most people in her life. At school though, she was befriended by shy New Scamander that showed her kindness when no one else did, shared with her his secret world of magical beasts and understood her when she did not understand herself.
Now as an adult, Leta has grown to be an independent Ministry worker and is madly in love with Theseus Scamander, while obviously still harboring affections for Newt. However, Leta is haunted by an old family prophecy that connects to own past wrongs (similar to Dumbledore). Now, to save a young boy's life she must find the courage to confess her wrongs and free herself from her fear and self doubt.
There is infinitely more that I could write about, but that would require a separate review. This movie was very complex and I had to see it twice to better understand everything that was going on. I appreciated that they continued to build upon Newt's character, by still having him as the charming and awkward animal lover, but also adding his deep dislike of any form of convention. If Newt Scamander proves anything it's that no man is meant to be an island, set apart from the rest of the world. Newt refuses to takes sides in the upcoming battle towards Grindelwald and his sin of remission from the world comes with great sacrifices that finally opens his eyes and makes him choose.
Now to end of this master review, take a moment to appreciate the full jewel of this film:
Jude Law as a ridiculously young and handsome Albus Dumbledore...