The Woes of A Potterhead

The moment I read the news that Joanne Kathleen Rowling is writing five screenplays focusing on the adventures of one author of a certain Hogwarts textbook, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, my heart skipped–Potterhead that I am. It will be set in the 1920s, ending timely with the end of World War II, specifically on the climactic battle of Dumbledore and Grindelwald in 1945. Imagine my excitement: The Wizarding World is expanding!

November 2016. The whole world was introduced to Newt Scamander. I actually liked the film, despite the cluttered writing of JKR. David Yates, the director who helmed the last four Potter films, did a great job translating this whole new world into the silver screen. The film was not met without controversy (from the casting of Johnny Depp to the changes on spellcasting logic). Back then, I was still a giddy Potterhead who blindly consumes whatever Rowling was gifting us. Some of the friends I know have the same mindset. We all accepted it as it is, no questions, no analyses. It’s the writing, the storytelling of somebody who shaped us–shaped me and my brilliant friends–growing up. So, yeah, Fantastic Beasts was something refreshing for me–until I’ve watched it the second time. Honestly, it is the only Potter film that I’m not as excited to rewatch. And that’s coming from someone who’s seen the eight installments multiple times.

I’ve reread the books (the sacred seven texts) countless times as well (two decades is enough time to read all books whenever you can). I’ve studied the canon. I’ve learned and memorized all small details: from the Hogwarts Houses, all the professors’s names, the places in the Wizarding World, the histories of each character, the spells, and the logic of the world. I am proud to say I am one of those Potterheads who can tell you any trivial matter in the Potterverse.

All the more, my appreciation and understanding of the Potterverse expanded after listening to Mallory Rubin and Jason Concepcion of Bingemode, a podcast tackling pop culture. That’s after some serious prodding from my best friend, Anna. (I’m currently listening on their deep dive discussions on The Half-Blood Prince.)

When the final trailer of Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald was released weeks ago, I was ecstatic! It’s back to the Wizarding World. Younger Dumbledore! Paris! New beasts! But…said trailer details met several reactions, mostly shock.

The Nagini reveal was one of the most shocking and polarizing revisionism ever made in the history of literature. This was the moment my blinds were shattered. I can’t understand what this is all about. When was this established in the canon, I asked myself. Fans were torn about it; one side says it’s a great development, another says it’s a dumb change. And change it does as to the light we see Lord Voldemort’s closest ally and Horcrux. And, as honest as I can be, I hate it. This was the point where I asked myself: will the sequel have more twists in store? That dread left a bad taste in my mouth.

November 15, 2018. 11:00AM. I bought my ticket for Grindelwald at Ayala Centrio Cinemas and waited for 1PM to arrive. I wasn’t excited, perhaps of the fact that I also happened to watch the finale of American Horror Story: Apocalypse that morning, and when I took my seat (I11) inside the theater (Cinema 2), the WB trailers blazing by, I barely had any trepidation or any feeling, for that matter, when the WB logo faded in the screen. (Also, a viewer was snoring loudly just five seats away in a row in front of me. Talk about…foreshadowing.)

SPOILER ALERT. Be warned!!!

Okay. I was supposed to rewatch Crimes of Grindelwald before I write anything OBJECTIVELY about it, but…allow me to just rant at what was happening (like fifteen year-old Harry James Potter). I’ll just do an enumeration of the things I like and abhor in the sequel of the Fantastic Beasts saga…

For those who have watched the film already, I implore you, for us to have a discussion on the following matters with mugs of Butterbeer between us.

For those who haven’t, stay away until you watched.

***

1. Loved the costumes. Except, Newt doesn’t have other clothes? That costume was so first film. The others have new designs…

2. Loved the expansion of the Wizarding World to Paris. But no Beauxbatons cameo? Also, whatever happened to MACUSA’s name? You just replace it with American Ministry of Magic. And if it’s in UK, you call it British Ministry of Magic. And in France…? Yeah, the French, of course. You got to be kidding me. But you still saved it by showing us Nurmengard—although…it didn’t look like a prison? It looked more what I imagined Durmstrang would look like.

3. Good choice of introducing less new fantastic beasts to ogle at. Some of the new beasts in the film: a zouwu, firedrakes, a kelpie, a kappa, and an augerey. Shaking my head at the beast ex machina that happened in the end relating to…

4. I like that blood pact reveal between APWBD and GG. Obvs, Dumbledore will destroy that a la Horcrux. Though, will he?

5. Also, love the blue fire vs yellow fire sequence in that cemetery. So Zuko-Azula Agni Kai.

6. I like the sorcerer’s stone easter egg.

7. BUT THAT STUPID CRYSTAL BALL OF FLAMEL WTF WAS THAT.

8. But seriously…ANOTHER FUCKING PROPHECY? What a fucking joke?

9. I like the World War II foreshadowing. But don’t like the implication that Grindelwald might be the cause of Hitler’s rise…just too in-the-nose.

10. Too many supporting characters supporting supporting characters…? Who barely have anything to do in the story…(i.e. Theseus Scamander, Nicolas Flamel, Nagini, Vinda Rosier) I bet you, most of you barely heard their names throughout the film. Most of you barely get to know them!

11. Apparating in Hogwarts grounds? Who the F– is the headmaster that time? Also, why does Dumbledore seem to be the only professor in Hogwarts around?

12. Oh wait. There’s McGonagall…who should be considered an anachronistic flaw? It’s 1927 and she isn’t born yet? Please explain, JKR. (Another revisionism I am appalled to think about. Really, JK?)

13. There’s a baby swapping subplot for Credence which made no sense at all. I couldn’t stop rolling my eyes.

14. Um, there were Muggles/non-magique in that Circus—um, isn’t that a violation of The Statute of Secrecy??? SERIOUSLY. And after all those carnage from Credence and Nagini’s escape…

15. Not having Grindelwald to kill a baby just so he wouldn’t be compared to Voldemort? Hmmmm? Saw what you did there, JK.

16. Queenie turning to the other side was a less established arc for me, that’s why I felt not invested with all the Jacob-Queenie relationship at all. Also, Tina just got downgraded into a nonsense love triangle…?

17. I never imagined looking at a Phoenix in a bad light. Wtf…

18. GRINDELWALD HAS MAGIC OVER TIME? How did he advance that phoenix’s growth? Ugh. Magic logic is subpar and not well-thought of here.

19. HOW DARE YOU INTRODUCE LETA LESTRANGE AND KILL HER OFF?

20. Fucking AURELIUS DUMBLEDORE…so you’re saying that Credence fucking Barebone is a Dumbledore…??? Um. What. And you think making him as another Obscurial just like his sister Ariana would make it so intriguing??? Such a cheap twist and basically lessens the emotional impact of Dumbledore’s journey to defy Grindelwald’s FOR THE GREATER GOOD. Not to mention…how the fuck did their parents have a secret baby after Ariana, when Dumbledore Sr was sent to Azkaban after attacking those three Muggle teens? (Author’s revisionism is a dangerous thing to deal with.)

***

Of course, many of you will disagree with me. You will say, “The movie was amazing!” “Rowling is such a wonderful storyteller,” “That was a mindblowing twist!”

Well, we all have our opinions.

But sometimes, you should take a step back and look at the whole situation as objectively as possible. Yes, the film (in the whole technical and entertainment sense) was amazing. It got all the great action sequences a film about magic should have. I’ll agree with you on that. But it didn’t have an essential plot (it was all subplots being all over the place), the characters were barely developed, and that final act was such a horrible montage.

Rowling as a storyteller? Yeah, she’s a great writer. A majestic novelist. But as a screenwriter? I definitely think not. She should just write in the novel form and have someone else adapt it properly.

On that “mindblowing” twist? I rolled my eyes so hard at that I believe my eyes saw my brain freezing from the whole nonsense of it. (See No. 20)

The legacy of Harry Potter is a beautiful, magical world filled with rules, with well-thought characterization, and, most importantly, relationship building. If I believe whatever transpired in Crimes of Grindelwald to be canon, it will lead to a total collapse of everything I believe in, to everything I’ve learned about these characters. And I don’t want this disastrous devolution to do that. This, like The Cursed Child, is an amusing and terribly sad enigma. I badly want to love it, but there’s just no magic to it. And that’s huge coming from a Potter fan.

~ by bipolarthespian13 on November 18, 2018.

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