The moment has finally come — Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald has been unleashed on the world. J.K. Rowling has packed a great deal of new canon into the film, but that doesn't come at the expense of some seriously magical moments.
For a series of movies now put under the banner of the Wizarding World, we'd certainly expect this to be the case. While the new film is much darker than the first film, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, there is still a vast amount of wizardry on display— both good and bad. To paraphrase Horace Slughorn in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, the world is made of both darkness and light, and so it is with magic.
Let's take a look at the top six most magical moments in the new film — magical moments of both light and dark.
WARNING: There are heavy spoilers ahead for Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald. If you haven't seen it, hop a broom out of here at once and fly to your nearest cinematic multiplex. As always, don't break ranks if one of us is killed.
We're treated to a large action scene right at the start of the film, and it's a doozy — Grindelwald is being (foolishly) transferred in a flying wagon pulled by Thestrals, with some broomstick-riding Aurors flying behind. Grindelwald said that MACUSA wouldn't hold him for long, and he was kind of wrong there. MACUSA actually did something right (for once), and they held him just fine. What they did wrong was allow him to recruit the wizard Abernathy, and it's thanks to him that Slippin' Gellert is able to pull off his daring mid-air escape.
Grindelwald and Abernathy switched places in prison thanks to some Polyjuice Potion, and it isn't long before Grindelwald is transforming into his true self underneath the wagon. He's brandishing the Elder Wand, and he means business. He almost effortlessly takes care of things using a variety of means — he turns ropes into snakes, floods the carriage, and has Abernathy use the age-old "Chupacabra in a wand box" routine. By the end of the sequence, Grindelwald and Abernathy are flying free, and Gellert has regained what will prove to be a most valuable item: the blood pact vial that he made years ago with Albus Dumbledore.
It's a thrilling start to the film, and it's full of dark magic. It shows how formidable Grindelwald will be, as well as how skilled he is with magic. It also shows that he isn't the most compassionate person— once Antonio the Chupacabra has served his purpose, he throws it out of the open door.
We get to know how the Wizarding World operates in Paris, and in one of the most memorable locations is a magical circus called "Circus Arcanus." It's got everything a regular circus has, but all of it is magical. There are magical creatures, people floating in bubbles, and tricks and treats around every corner. It's a feast for the eyes, and no matter where you look on the screen there is something interesting going on.
The circus itself is run by a jerk, and he isn't very nice to either Credence (CREDENCE!!!) or Nagini. When it comes time for him to pack up his traveling circus and shake some dust, he does so in a wonderfully magical way — the circus (tents, cages, etc) packs itself up like Merlin's workshop in the animated The Sword in the Stone. The whole thing fits inside one little wagon, complete with a House Elf riding on top of it. Circus folk are always getting into trouble (especially magical circus folk) so the ability to pack up shop like this probably comes in handy rather often.
Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore is back, ladies and gentlemen! There isn't a whole lot of Jude Law's take on the younger version of this classic character in the film, but when he's there, he's wonderful. As true to form as ever, Dumbledore makes his presence to Newt Scamander (and his presence in the film) known by highly whimsical means — he uses a floating glove that packs some serious attitude.
You get the sense that the moment Newt sees this floating glove, he knows that he's about to have some Dumble-dealings. It's a fun yet useful bit of magic from Dumbledore, who uses the glove (and a few more apparations after it) to evade surveillance. Though we don't see him use his patented Deluminator (though we do see it in the trailers) the glove of magical pointing is a nice eccentric addition to Dumbledore's array of tricks and talents. It even goes so far as to give Newt Nicholas Flamel's card at the end of the scene.
If I had a glove like this, I'd use it to annoy so many people... it would get taken away from me rather quickly, as such things often are.
Newt rides the Zouwu
Newt gets into some trouble in the French Ministry of Magic, and runs afoul of the Malagots, which are animal spirit familiars. What does he do to get out of this situation? He uses something from his magical case of wonders, of course.
In this case, he enlists the services of the Zouwu, the new creature he befriends earlier in the film. He rides the Zouwu around the French Ministry like he's Zeus riding a bull made of fire — the Malagots (and most of the building) doesn't fare too well. One of James Newton Howard's motifs from the first movie comes blasting in, and for a moment we are right back in the mess with Newt like we were back then. It seems like Newt's plans for escape often involve letting a beast free and wrecking the place, but we aren't complaining— the Zouwu proves to be quite a fantastic beast indeed, and the Malagots don't stand a chance.
Grindelwald heralds the coming of World War II
This is one of the darkest moments of the film, and it occurs during the rally of "oh let's just listen to what he has to say" that Grindelwald holds toward the end. He's already making his case, and persuading quite a few people there that his ideas about wizard dominance are correct and justified. To drive the point home even further, he takes a giant toke from his magical skull-hookah and blows out a cloudy vision for his audience — a vision of what non-magical society will do in the future.
The vision he shows them is World War II; planes, bombs, all of it. Even Jacob is taken aback — he's a veteran of the first World War, and can't believe that there's going to be another one. The capper to this horrible vision is one of the atomic bombs going off— after this, Grindelwald asks how long it will be before the muggles/no-maj's use such a weapon on them. Can Diagon Alley survive a nuclear blast? We'd rather not find out, and it seems like many of the people present at the rally don't want to either. If they weren't buying his bill of goods before the vision, they definitely were after it.
The moment is certainly magical, but it is dark and horrifying. This is exactly Grindelwald's intention — he wants to stoke the flames of fear wherever he can, and using an actual vision of the future is a sneaky (yet most effective) way to do it. We've never really seen a prophecy portrayed like this in the Wizarding World films either, and never on this grand a scale.
Time will tell how Grindelwald will continue to use the coming war to his advantage, and how it will play into the events of future films — it can't be a coincidence that Grindelwald's fall is set to occur in 1945.
Flamel's return, and the Wall of Wands
Finally meeting Nicholas Flamel, the man behind the Philosopher's (Sorcerer's) Stone, was a highlight of the film. He's given a fun moment with Jacob in the middle, but it's his return at the end that really gets you excited. He's wary about rejoining the fight, but this movie is all about picking a side — Flamel chooses his, and he chooses the light.
Grindelwald's rally is over, and with the closing words, "I hate Paris," he lets his blue flames grow to a crazy size, ready to burn the entire city down. Flamel arrives on the scene just in time and arranges the wizards on the side of light to create a "wall of wands," which in turn creates a wall of orange/gold energy. This fiery light of goodness blocks the evil blue flames of Grindelwald, and for a moment, actual light and darkness go at it in a highly magical way.
It takes the combined forces of good to get it done (with Newt and his brother connecting at last), but they succeed. Paris does not burn, and Grindelwald's "go f**k yourself, San Diego" signoff is ruined.
It's a great moment because it is literally the magic of light fighting the magic of darkness. The light proves to be more powerful... for now. Things will doubtlessly get worse before they get better, but thanks to Flamel, Newt, Tina, and the rest, we'll always have Paris.
Incidentally, Rowling and the filmmakers decided not to give us what would have been the most magical moment of all — a kiss between Newt and Tina. The two couldn't be more into each other if they TRIED, come on, salamander eyes and all that? Rowling's really gonna make us wait for it, isn't she... here's hoping that when the moment actually happens, it won't mostly take place in a wide shot like Ron and Hermione's kiss did. Let Newt and Tina kiss, so they can keep kissing for a few more films — I'll pay a talking lobster to travel with them and sing "Kiss the Girl" nonstop if I have to, and the lobster will float alongside them in my new magical Dumbledore glove.