Reviewed by: Charity Bishop
Heroism in the face of blatantly evil deeds
A Hitler-like wizard
Fantasy magic in movies and books
Entertainment that blurs the lines between good and evil
Brazilian folklore and mythology
About witches in the Bible
What does the Bible say about sorcery?
Eddie Redmayne … Newt Scamander
Jude Law … Albus Dumbledore
Mads Mikkelsen … Gellert Grindelwald
Ezra Miller … Credence Barebone / Aurelius Dumbledore
Katherine Waterston … Tina Goldstein
Alison Sudol … Queenie Goldstein
Dan Fogler … Jacob Kowalski
Callum Turner … Theseus Scamander
Richard Coyle … Aberforth Dumbledore
Fiona Glascott … Minerva McGonagall
See all »
Heyday Films [England]
See all »
|Distributor||Warner Bros. Pictures, a Warner Bros. Entertainment Company|
Many years ago, when Albus Dumbledore (Jude Law) was young and foolish, he and Gellert Grindelwald (Mads Mikkelsen) made each other an unbreakable pact: to never harm each other. They sealed it in drops of blood placed into a charmed necklace. If either of them ever even thinks about attacking the other, the charm will strangle the life out of them.
Now that Dumbledore is older and wiser, he regrets this pact… because the Grindelwald who wanted to change the world at his side has become a violent, Muggle-hating revolutionary who wants to unleash an all-out war on Muggles and eradicate or enslave them. Since Dumbledore can’t touch him, it’s up to his intrepid band of friends to help him defeat his oldest friend and stop him from amassing power.
Among those determined to stop him is Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne), the “only” magical zoologist in existence, and the author of Fantastic Beasts. He encounters Grindelwald’s followers deep in the jungle, where they attack a magical creature who has given birth to a faun and steal it from him. Though devastated by its loss, Newt discovers its twin and carries it to safety.
He must protect it from Grindelwald, with the help of his friend Jacob (Dan Fogler), a No-Mage (Muggle) whose bakery business is failing since the love of his life, Queenie (Alison Sudol) went to Grindelwald’s side. There, he uses her to keep an eye on the unstable Credence (Ezra Miller), who now knows he is a Dumbledore and awaits the right moment to confront Albus. Grindelwald hopes to groom him to attack his oldest friend, since he cannot do it himself. But he has even more diabolical plans in motion. Can Dumbledore’s army stop him?
If the plot sounds complicated, it is! There’s a lot going on, as Rowling picks up and continues storylines from the first two installments—but where the second movie had too many side characters, this one has a better handle on the important ones. The plot follows a lot of ideas, but it places Newt front and center, even though the film truly belongs to Jude Law’s Dumbledore. One of the great enigmas of the Harry Potter books, it’s interesting to see Dumbledore younger and full of zeal, but there’s also a sadness to him that Law brings to the forefront – an idealist who now knows someone he once cared about has taken a very different path. And that brings us to the main hiccup of the story.
Rowling created controversy a few years ago when she announced that Dumbledore was “Gay, and in love with Gellert Grindelwald.” This movie brings it to the forefront, in six lines of dialog that make it clear their relationship was romantic. Dumbledore tells Grindelwald in the opening scene he never went against him, because “I was in love with you.” Later, he says the same summer “Gellert and I fell in love,” his brother also fell in love with a local girl, and that his brother did not approve of their relationship. When the bond is eventually severed between them, Gellert asks him, “Who will love you now?” It’s shared in a matter-of-fact and normalized way, and none of the characters think anything of it, though it’s set in a time period when homosexuality was punishable by law in Great Britain.
GAY—What’s wrong with being Gay? Answer —Homosexual behavior versus the Bible: Are people born Gay? Does homosexuality harm anyone? Is it anyone’s business? Are homosexual and heterosexual relationships equally valid?
What about Gays needs to change? Answer —It may not be what you think.
Read stories about those who have struggled with homosexuality
Jude Law gives a nuanced performance rife with internal strife and inner meaning, matched only by the enthusiasm, sweetness, and comedic timing of Eddie Redmayne, whose Newt is a treasure. The scene where he leads an army of dangerous creatures in a crab-like dance through a prison is hilarious. His love interest, Tina, is nowhere to be seen (she does make a cameo at the end), but there’s closure for Queenie and Jacob fans, and this film brings the plot threads from earlier installments full circle.
It’s a spectacular watch, full of magical creatures, 1930’s atmosphere, wizard’s duels (some of them take place in an alternate dimension), and winks to book fans, including a cameo from a young Minerva McGonagall. It’s also easier to follow for viewers who are Potterheads, familiar with the world and its characters. The costumes and set design are gorgeous, and the score is memorable – it brings in the familiar Harry Potter chords, but builds a new musical arc around Dumbledore that contains some of the prettiest harmonies from the franchise.
The story takes a while to get going, and there are many slow sections; Rowling has a lot of characters, some of which she doesn’t need, but she keeps the story tighter this time.
Family-wise, other than the aforementioned homosexual references, there are other things to concern parents, including dark magic. The magic used in this fantasy world has always been clearly good or evil; good characters avoid dark magic, but villains like Grindelwald use it in terrible, dark ways. In this instance, he kills a newborn creature (slits its throat, but we don’t see it, and lays it down in a pool of its own blood), then reanimates it through necromancy to bind it to his will. It’s seen as a terrible act of violence against a pure and innocent creature. He also takes away a man’s memory of his sister (whom Grindelwald killed), uses a torture curse against Jacob, and continues to emotionally manipulate Credence to attack Dumbeldore. It comes out that Credence was conceived outside of wedlock, and his mother was sent away “in shame.”
The film earns its PG-13 rating for violence — we see wizards and a witch kill a magical creature (it lives and suffers for a while, until it dies having shed a tear for its fauns). A giant scorpion guards an underground prison and, each time the candle goes out, attacks the nearest prisoner — piercing them with a prong and dragging them down into the pit to eat them, then spitting up the ribcage and other body parts for its children to feast on; we see this happen twice. It viciously attacks Newt and his brother. Wizard duels lead to mass destruction, although it all happens in a second dimension so there’s no harm done to Muggles.
Rowling’s stories have always been full of good and bad characters, with strong lines between them, but these stories are darker and more adult than the Harry Potter installments. Grindelwald is a Hitler character, bent on death and destruction against non-Purebloods, but is also manipulative and callous. His cruel treatment of innocent creatures, among them the neglected, once-abused Credence, is a bitter reminder of how evil takes, but gives nothing in return. Grindelwald cares not whom he ‘consumes’ in his path to power, but there are always people to stand against him—and Rowling attempts to make viewers care about each of these characters, as much as the lost ones. She includes redemption and grace, in Credence’s search for belonging, love, acceptance, and family. But, of course, this can only truly be found in Christ, and He doesn’t exist in this fantasy world.
What is the real world of the Occult?
The Occult—What does the Bible say about it?
About witches in the Bible
What does the Bible say about sorcery?
There has been a dramatic increase in the number of people in the U.S. who self-identify as witches (Wicca or neo-Pagan) since 1990, according to reported studies by Trinity College (Connecticut), The American Religious Identification Survey and The Pew Research Center.
See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.