Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore Review

The third instalment in the Fantastic Beasts franchise, Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore, comes to us four years after its predecessor. The overall series has become tainted by J.K. Rowling’s transphobic comments and the Johnny Depp domestic abuse allegations, but even if you manage to separate the art from the artists and go in as a pure fan of the Potter world, you’ll find this latest entry has been drained of the majority of its magic.

The film begins with Albus Dumbledore (Jude Law) confessing his love for Grindelwald (now played by Mads Mikkelsen) amid a discussion of their past. But feelings won’t stop Dumbledore from doing what he needs to do—preventing Grindelwald from taking over the Wizarding World. Because the two great wizards cannot face-off against each other, due to their blood-pact, Albus assembles his own army to help him led by Magizoologist Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne), his brother Theseus (Callum Turner), Professor Eulalie Hicks (Jessica Williams), and muggle Jacob Kowalski (Dan Fogler). On the other side of the battle stands Grindelwald and his nefarious circle, which includes Credence Barebone (Ezra Miller) and the telepathic Queenie (Alison Sudol), who left her love Jacob behind for this new life. The two teams go head-to-head in a battle of sorcery and wit as they each try to outsmart the other.

It must be said that Mikkelsen is a very well-chosen successor to Depp’s Grindelwald. He’s menacing and charismatic in equal measure and settles into the role so well that it’s easy to forget he hasn’t been a part of this cast from the get go. Fogler’s comedic charm keeps the film from straying into darkness for too long, while Law continues to impress as a young Dumbledore—the only character in the film with a truly solid arc.

The rest of Beast‘s characters don’t fare nearly as well. Most just hang in the background, disappointed they don’t have more to do. Newt, a favourite of mine, is pushed to the sidelines throughout, acting mainly as midwife to a Qilin creature and its babies. It’s an odd choice given that Newt has always been the backbone of this particular series.

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Not to mention there are very few fantastic beasts to be found here. Audiences who have also come to expect and adore the wild and wonderful creatures introduced in previous chapters will find themselves quite disappointed.

That said, the magical fight sequences are certainly a highlight and the film’s entire narrative comes to life when they become the focus. Which is a good thing since the plot itself is fairly threadbare and the movie’s pace made it difficult to be invested in the character developments, or lack thereof. The central story follows Grindelwald scheming to win an upcoming election but besides that, there’s nothing much going on. The story really could have used a stronger hook to keep fans involved.

Though there’s much to be disappointed in here, the visual effects never stop impressing and it’s a treat to again become immersed in the magical world that the team has put together. The film still has that Harry Potter charm going for it; if only the characters and plot lived up to that promise.  in the future films or else the magic fizzles out.

Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore is out in theatres now.

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