One-Minute, Spoiler-Free Positive Review: The Crimes of Grindelwald

There are some Harry Potter purists who are going to be upset by what this film does.  “It shrinks the Wizarding World.”  “It seems to change some backstories.”  “It makes so-and-so older or younger than we thought!”  “Rowling is too good a writer to contradict her own canon.”

In other words, people dedicated to a certain vision of the Wizarding World may be tempted to treat this the way certain Star Wars fans treat Solo and The Last Jedi (I’m not talking about misogynist fanboys triggered by strong female leads, but about people who get upset when their hallowed continuity gets ruffled).

I had just graduated high school when the first Potter book came out, and I was 27 when Deathly Hallows was published.  That is to say, I have no romantic childhood allegiance to any of that material.  For me, it’s always been middle-grade fiction, sometimes intensely exciting, often vexing.  It’s not as good as people a decade younger than me think it is.  (Star Wars is not nearly as good as most of its fans think it is, either.  But Rouge One was a great film, and I thoroughly enjoyed Solo.)

Grindelwald, to me, is something else entirely.  It is grand in scale, epic in scope.   Its politics are timely (never forget that Ron and Harry couldn’t be arsed to care about elf-kind), and its villain seductively human.  (That Johnny Depp may actually be a villain in real life could be part of that, and no performance, no matter how great, can undo the problems with Depp if the allegations against him are true).  Its plot threads, with one exception, are convincingly developed and come to a satisfying head.  Its struggles, with one exception, are believable.

I can’t say more (even about some of the casting and narrative controversies) without giving plot points away.  So I won’t.  From a technical and artistic standpoint, this is, for me, the best entry in both wizarding franchises.

And Hufflepuff is the best.