What could be so wrong with a Fantastic Beasts sequel? Anything that means Harry Potter isn't really over should be music to the ears of diehard fans, but this most recent film — the second in J.K. Rowling's spinoff that takes place long before the original series, this time in 1927 — has ended up sparking more frustration than it has magic, even though this film should be the most nostalgic of them all.
That's because The Crimes Of Grindelwald stars many familiar characters, including Jude Law as a young Dumbledore and the controversial Johnny Depp as Grindelwald, but they are not the only Harry Potter relics that make appearances in the blockbuster (did anyone else spot the Sorcerer's Stone?). Rowling, who wrote the screenplay for the film, inserts many nods and cameos to her original work, an effort to appease fans of the seven-book series. Instead, however, her attempts to provoke nostalgia and — even worse — create new twists, end up contradicting everything we held dear about the original series. It's not magical — it's exhausting.
1. Wizards can't apparate inside Hogwarts.
Outrage first swelled when the first trailer for the sequel was released. It showed a group of wizards apparating inside the walls of Hogwarts, something the books are very clear one cannot do. (It's a threat to Hogwarts' ironclad security.) Sure enough, our first shot of Hogwarts since the original series is tainted moments later with a blundering plot hole as a group of aurors appear on the premises.
2. Professor McGonagall wasn't born yet.
In the movie, during a pivotal flashback, Dumbledore is teaching Defense Against The Dark Arts when a young woman professor interrupts. He refers to the professor as "McGonagall," which would be a nice moment were it not for the fact that, uh, the McGonagall from the books wasn't born yet. McGonagall would only be around three years old during the main events of Crimes of Grindelwald, so a flashback to years earlier makes her appearance as a professor even more impossible.
3. The Mirror Of Erised
Then there are a number plot holes wrapped into one confounding moment: when Dumbledore looks into the Mirror Of Erised and sees a flashback of himself and Grindelwald making a promise to never fight each other. First off, the Mirror of Erised doesn't show flashbacks, a pensieve does, and Dumbledore used one in the Harry Potter films. (Thus, he knows how to use it!) The Mirror of Erised shows the user's deepest desire, and we already know that Dumbledore's is his happy, healthy family, removed from the tragic events with his sister, because this was explained in the books.
4. The Unbreakable Vow (or whatever that was)
Then, there's that promise. The oath Grindelwald and Dumbledore make appears to have all the consequences of an Unbreakable Vow, something Rowling introduced in the series, but none of the markings. Instead it's more along the lines of a blood oath, scarring the makers' hands and sealing their promise in a necklace. But this is the first time the series has mentioned blood oaths, and the series doesn't differentiate it from an Unbreakable Vow. Did Rowling just decide to make Unbreakable Vows a little more fancy?
Also, when exactly would they have made this promise? Readers know that Dumbledore's very last interaction with Grindelwald was a fight. Grindelwald reportedly fled right after, so unless we are supposed to believe he stopped briefly to make this binding promise, when else could the two men have cemented this plot point?
5. The big "twist."
But nothing is as disappointing as the big twist at the end, in which Grindelwald tells Credence Barebone (Ezra Miller) that he's actually (huge gasp) Dumbledore's never-bef0re-heard-of brother, Aurelius Dumbledore. This is where the movie loses all credibility. One of the purposes of Deathly Hallows was to reveal the backstory of Albus Dumbledore, including the full details of his family. F-U-L-L. He had a sister, named Alaina, and a brother, Aberforth. His parents died when he was young and an "Aurelius" was never mentioned. Given that the events of Fantastic Beasts occur before Harry Potter, this "twist" shouldn't be a twist at all because, ostensibly, we'd already know about it.
Even if you can rationalize your away around that, it's still an impossible twist. Dumbledore's parents are long dead, which means Aurelius is too young to be their son. By his birth, they would already have passed.
Whether it be a small English town or a full Wizarding community, J.K. Rowling's talent lies in building worlds. What makes her books so successful are their complex, deeply-rooted, and credible stories, which is why it's unlike her to disregard the fabric of Harry Potter in The Crimes of Grindelwald. Of course, the writer's other trademark is to pull a rabbit of a hat and make everything fall into place when we least expect it.
It's not yet time to give up hope when three more movies await us, especially since Crimes of Grindelwald's main purpose appeared to be setting us up for what's to come. Let's just say it's going to take more than a simple magic trick to get us back on track — but luckily, Rowling's magic is anything but predictable.