Fantastic Beasts: the five crimes of Grindelwald

One of the great mysteries of the Harry Potter spin-off Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, was how a movie that gained rave reviews, an ‘A’ CinemaScore and crossed the $800 million milestone at the box office has come to be considered ‘lacklustre’.

Dark magic could be at work, although admittedly Beasts wasn’t without its flaws. Still, I doubt the studio are wringing their hands, as Twitter and Youtube were buzzing when the teaser trailer for the next movie – The Crimes Of Grindelwald – was released last week.

If he’s going to be sinning against the magical world, what crimes should we expect Gellert Grindelwald to commit?

Escape custody.

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That look spells murder. We don’t know how much time has passed since Newt managed to outsmart Grindelwald and deliver him to the wands of MACUSA’s Aurors, but judging by his long hair and hollow face, he’s been captive for a few months at least.

Apparently audiences groaned when Colin Farrell’s disguise vanished to reveal a bloated and bleached Johnny Depp – an American megastar cameo-ing in a franchise dominated by talented, lower profile (mainly British) actors.

Following that rushed reveal, hair and makeup have worked magic, casting a Revelio charm on Depp’s cheekbones. Grindelwald needs a hell-raising rock star vibe, and Johnny Depp fits the bill perfectly.

Witches and wizards turn a blind eye to his true nature – as his former admirer Dumbledore confessed: “Did I know…what Gellert Grindelwald was? I think I did, but I closed my eyes.”

End Madam Picquery’s incompetent reign of smugness.

“Do you think you can hold me?” Grindelwald asked MACUSA’s useless, smug and incompetent Madam Picquery, giving her a contemptuous stare down. Playing Picquery’s second fiddle Graves took all of Grindelwald’s patience and self-restraint.

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Still in a job?: Madam Picquery

This is the witch who refused to accept that her city had an Obscurial problem, and failed to notice that her right-hand man was being impersonated by the world’s most wanted wizard – all while lecturing European officials for letting him slip through their fingers.

Picquery ignored Tina’s pleas when she apprehended Newt on his arrival in New York, yet later claimed outrage that Tina didn’t inform her of his presence straight away. She had them both arrested, before the pair were nearly executed by Graves/Grindelwald.

I’m surprised more fans didn’t pick up on Picquery’s Fudge-like incompetence.

Kick Newt Scamander’s head in. Again.

If I were a bumbling, animal-loving Brit wanting a quiet life – which I am – and I had thwarted the evil plans of a deranged dark wizard, I would stay as far away from that individual as possible.

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We adore him: Magical bigwigs are terrified Dumbledore will make his own power play

Except Dumbledore is clearly a hard man to say ‘no’ to. “I can’t move against Grindelwald,” he tells Scamander in the trailer. “It has to be you.”

Ugh, why? Last time Newt encountered an enraged Grindelwald, the wild-eyed dark wizard pinned him to a railway track and tortured him with Sith lightening.

Newt should have been airlifted by Thestral to New York’s version of St Mungo’s. Somehow – and this is a symptom of the badly rushed final showdown – Newt was fine in seconds. (Or perhaps we bumbling Brits are made of sterner stuff and Dumbledore’s faith in the underdog is justified.)

In the cinema you had to strain to hear Grindelwald’s parting words to Newt: “Will we die just a little?” It was probably ad-libbed by Depp when he couldn’t remember his lines. He meant to say “You’re going to die, little British Hufflepuff weedling.” Gulp.

Corrupt Credence Bowlcut some more.

While Newt crashed all over New York looking for his missing critters – with his equally hapless No-Maj sidekick Jacob (comedian Dan Fogler) – in tow, the international threat of dark magic bubbled away like a cauldron in the background.

A third plot line saw teenage orphan Credence Barebone wreak havoc as an Obscurius. Cowering in fear of his religious, witch-hunting adoptive mother Samantha Morton, Credence was then groomed and brutally rejected by Grindelwald, before the dark wizard realized the boy’s raw destructive power.

Don’t expect Credence to be transfigured into a sunny character any time soon. It’ll take more than a new life with the circus and the motherly(?) attention of a fellow performer to turn that Obscurial frown upside down.

Grindelwald looks like he has his Bellatrix Lestrange – Vinda Rosier (played by Poppy Corby-Tuech), from one of Britain’s ancient and prestigious magical bloodlines.

Will he will try to recruit young Credence again? Harry Potter and Tom Riddle were both neglected orphans who made very different choices. What side will Credence choose?

Mass slaughter for the greater good.

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Hands off my Niffler!

‘For the greater good’ is Grindelwald’s philosophy and his justification for his actions in the wizarding war. Yet ‘Crimes’ is only the second movie in a franchise that will span a 19 year timeline, so it’s unlikely we will see Grindelwald do his worst yet.

Potterheads will know most of the main cast are safe. Little is known about Newt’s brother and his enigmatic fiancée, Leta Lestrange, played by Zoë Kravitz, but it seems unlikely that such promising characters will get bumped off too quickly.

Grindelwald will probably target Muggles, but personally, I was more gutted when Dobby the CGI house elf took his last breath than by any other tragedies in Harry Potter’s world.

Newt’s beasts could be in serious peril this time.

Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald is out 16 November this year.