After watching The Crimes of Grindelwald, I decided to write down everything about the movie that confused me. (Note that these are not all plot holes. Some are just stuff that might take multiple viewings to understand, but I doubt I want to watch this movie again.) (Spoiler warning, btw, in case the title didn’t imply it already.)
Much of my complaints about the movie center around plot holes. While I listed the plot holes in my previous post (linked above), I was reminded of this video by Patrick (H) Willems titled “Shut Up About Plot Holes”. I totally get where he’s coming from. Do minor plot holes really detract from the essence of the movie? Does it change the plot? Does it change the character development? The message? Or the general feeling the movie leaves you with?
In the case of The Crimes of Grindelwald, the answer is yes on all counts. See, there was no plot, just a bunch of sub plots meant to tie the first movie of the new series, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, to general trivia from the original Harry Potter series. There was minimal to no character development, with some characters having no relevance to the plot whatsoever.
Did the movie have themes and messages? Maybe. Something about how a charismatic leader can motivate you in believing in
ethnic cleansing cleansing of non-magical blood…yikes let’s not go there. This message itself is actually not affected by the plot holes, but the trouble with it is that it is not particularly well-developed and is unlikely to leave the viewer with a lasting impression. The general feeling you can expect the movie to leave anyone with is a sense of nostalgia. And that’s where the plot holes matter.
The plot holes matter for two reasons:
One: Since there wasn’t much else the movie offered us besides some really cool Easter Eggs, these Easter Eggs needed to make sense. Since the movies rely on nostalgia, it ought to not mess with the nostalgia.
Two: Since Rowling herself took painstaking care to craft the details of each character’s backstories, complete with hard dates, contradicting those only goes to show that she doesn’t actually care and this was just a cash grab.
I’ll focus on a few plot holes.
1. In the books, the way wizards dressed (in robes) was heavily emphasized. The biggest problem Uncle Vernon had with wizards seemed to be how they dressed. However, the wizards in The Crimes of Grindelwald dress even smarter than Uncle Vernon. In the books, Dumbledore’s eccentric clothing was always emphasized. A flashback scene in The Half Blood Prince (that chronologically would take place about 10 years after the events of this movie) showed Dumbledore’s utter lack of being able to dress as a Muggle. In The Crimes of Grindelwald, Dumbledore is dressed very smartly indeed. (Jude Law looks fantastic btw!) The Fantastic Beasts series is supposed to span 19 years, but somehow I doubt we will see Dumbledore’s clothing evolve from sharp and classy to eccentric. This retcon of how wizards dress messes with the whimsical feel of the books. (To be fair, in the Harry Potter movies, the wizards and witches didn’t dress in robes at all times, but their clothes were close enough to robes, and it never stood out this glaringly. And FBAWTFT was set in America, so you could make a case they dressed the same as “no-majs” as a precaution, since they were more serious in America than in Britain about not being discovered. So the first movie in the series didn’t draw much criticism on this matter. However CoG cannot get the same pass because it retcons a character trait of a beloved original character.)
2. Why did we need to know that Nagini was once a Maledictus woman? A lot has already been written about why fans find this problematic. But my issue is: what did this knowledge add? Why even have this character in the movie? Nagini played no role in the movie. You can cut out her character and change nothing in the plot. How is any of this at all relevant to her experience with Voldemort later on? Maybe she will become relevant in later films, but for now, her inclusion seemed only to wink at fans.
3. The McGonagall cameo made no sense. This is one of those instances where Rowling has provided dates about McGonagall’s life, such that you can infer when she was born, which happens to be before when CoG takes place. Why did Rowling include a McGonagall cameo in a film set before the character was supposed to be born? Is she sloppy about the facts she laid out herself? Does she not care that she has laid down these hard facts? They will backpedal on this one, I’m sure, to explain it. However, I can’t see how they can. It can’t be a relative from her dad’s side because they were all Muggles; and it can’t be someone from her mom’s side because they were called Ross. So if they were to claim this wasn’t Minerva McGonagall, the only option left is her mother, Isobel Ross. Here’s Isobel’s biography on the Harry Potter wiki. It implies that she was a homemaker, but does not explicitly state her occupation. So they might tweak it and say she taught at Hogwarts and pretended it was a regular boarding school to her husband. But the wiki describes the fact that she left the wizarding world behind to be with her husband and the subsequent depression she suffered from because of her isolation – how do you explain that? It just doesn’t work. Also, on IMDB, the character is listed at Minerva McGonagall. So there. This cameo was included only as a fun Easter Egg for fans at the expense of continuity.
Rowling could have left herself plenty of wiggle room had she only stopped providing such detailed backstories. But because she laid out hard facts, when she disregards them, it just goes to show that she has stopped caring. Remember how a few years ago, she publicly talked about how she wished she hadn’t paired Ron and Hermione? It’s like she regrets what she has written and wants to retcon everything. And that’s what is so disappointing. And that’s why these plot holes matter.