Fantastic Beasts: Secrets of Dumbledore begins to really explore the magical world and scratch the surface of the franchise’s potential.
The third installment of the Fantastic Beasts franchise brings us back into the magical world of Harry Potter, in the time of his famed mentor and professor, Albus Dumbledore (Jude Law), before his great defeat of the evil wizard Gellert Grindewald (Mads Mikkelsen). The two former lovers have taken to opposite sides of war but are magically bound to not betray each other. Thus, their friends and followers must act in their stead. In Fantastic Beasts: Secrets of Dumbledore, the bonds and pasts of the two famed wizards are explored and the magical world is delved into more than ever before.
Fantastic Beasts: Secrets of Dumbledore Reveal the Secret Wizarding World
Fantastic Beasts: Secrets of Dumbledore is easily the best of the Fantastic Beasts franchise so far. It starts off immediately with some major confirmations of highly believed canon and some deaths that are even more impactful than the baby murder in the Crimes of Grindewald. I believe it’s because the deaths are vividly shown, truly earning the movie its PG-13 rating. But despite the continued heinous acts of Grindewald and his followers, the magical world of the Harry Potter franchise has never been so beautiful.
Not since reading the Harry Potter books 20 years ago have I wanted to explore, or be a part of, the wizarding world as much as I do now. The Fantastic Beasts moniker has never felt more apt, as the film incorporates the magical creatures as more than just jokes, threats, and spectacles, but as part of the lore and culture of the magical world. It adds a layer of realism to the fantasy of a separate world in parallel with our own. In combination with the more robust and frequent use of magic, the potential of the magical world becomes apparent. What is more apparent is that we are only scratching the surface.
Wonderful Witches and Wizards
With a new film comes new characters, or new focuses on existing characters. Mads Mikkelsen taking over for Johnny Depp is the most known and likely the most intriguing. It is unfortunate to have to replace an actor in the middle of a franchise, however with the way public relations work and the controversy behind it, it is understandable to avoid any possibility of damaging the product. Luckily, Mikkelsen is a high-caliber performer who stepped right in and made the role his own. Mikkelsen adds a much more subtle ministry than that of Depp but is equally impactful.
Jude Law as Albus Dumbledore is a little too perfect. Law captures the essence of the character, much like Richard Harris did in the first two Harry Potter films. It is hard to pinpoint exactly, and even hard without spoiling the film, but the gentle yet powerful presence Law exhibits is exactly what I believe most fans imagine when reading the book. Law’s Dumbledore is Charismatic and approachable, however, there lies an obvious power that is to be feared and respected. Law could easily be mistaken for the star of the film because of how regarded his Dumbledore is and his seemingly effortless embodiment of him.
The breakout star of the film is Jessica Williams as Professor Hicks. Hicks is powerful, brilliant, and effortlessly confident. Her wit and her abilities provided the ragtag team a strong foundation that makes their success always seem possible, despite the odds. It was also nice to have another American magic wielder on the team, especially with Tina (Katherine Waterston) playing a smaller part in this film. In a similar yet somewhat opposite vein, Bunty (Victoria Yeates) is the quiet wildcard that really changes the game. Yeates presents Bunty as innocent and a bit naive, but there is something about her that always registers as important. She radiates X-Factor energy.
The other returning casts members all deliver wonderful performances. However, nothing really notable or different from any of the previous films. Eddie Redmayne’s Newt is still charmingly awkward and Dan Fogler’s Jacob is still the hilarious voice of reason. Ezra Miller, Allison Sudol, and Callum Turner all perform admirably, but their roles feel a bit reduced compared to previous films. They do well with what they have but aren’t given much to really shine. William Nadylam I feel is the most shortchanged of the performers. He’s on the poster but doesn’t get a notable amount of screen time.
Dumbledore’s Secrets Aren’t Very Secret
While Fantastic Beasts: Secrets of Dumbledore opens and explores the wizarding world in spectacular fashion, it does so at the sacrifice of the story. The grandeur and opulence of the wizarding world are diminished by the unbalanced pacing and inconsistent story. Credence’s big reveal at the end of Crimes of Grindewald does not play as big a part in the film as it was presented in the second film. The global wizarding war never feels present and feels almost tamed compared to Crimes of Grindewald and Voldermort’s return. Basically, the stakes in Fantastic Beasts: Secrets of Dumbledore never match that of the previous film nor does it seem to pick up where it left off.
Fantastic Beasts: Secrets of Dumbledore feels like it is attempting to restart the franchise while also wrapping up what the two previous films began. A daunting task, and one the film doesn’t complete in a satisfying way. The numerous hurdles the film faced in getting created, as well as the added hurdles of Rona, undoubtedly affected the production. Tina’s absence, the disconnectedness from the previous films, and the lack of stakes are hard to avoid and definitely keep the film from being the powerhouse blockbuster it can be.
However, the reintroduction of magical wonder and excitement, which is the essence of the entire Harry Potter franchise, is stronger than it has been in a long time. The movie may not be as strong story-wise, but it is powerful in its soul and will likely capture the hearts and minds of the audience, creating a demand for more. Which is all that Potter Fans can hope for. The performers, much like the world, have tremendous untapped potential that the Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore only begin to use. Hopefully, we get to see that potential fully realized in the future.
Fantastic Beasts: Secrets of Dumbledore is a fun and enjoyable film that reinvigorates the love and excitement of the magical world of Harry Potter to new heights, but doesn’t quite raise the bar cinematically. For reinspiring the wonder, and beginning to truly tap into the franchise’s potential, Fantastic Beasts: Secrets of Dumbledore gets a 6.5/10.
Fantastic Beasts, Secrets of Dumbledore is in theaters now.
ABOUT FANTASTIC BEASTS: THE SECRETS OF DUMBLEDORE
Release date: April 15, 2022
Director: David Yates
Distributed by: Warner Bros. Pictures
Story by: J. K. Rowling
Music composed by: James Newton Howard
Screenplay: J. K. Rowling, Steve Kloves
Producers: J. K. Rowling, Steve Kloves, David Heyman, Lionel Wigram, Tim Lewis
Cast: Eddie Redmayne, Dan Fogler, Katherine Waterston, Alison Sudol, Jude Law, Mads Mikkelsen, Ezra Miller, Callum Turner, Jessica Williams, Claudia Kim
Professor Albus Dumbledore knows the powerful, dark wizard Gellert Grindelwald is moving to seize control of the wizarding world. Unable to stop him alone, he entrusts magizoologist Newt Scamander to lead an intrepid team of wizards and witches. They soon encounter an array of old and new beasts as they clash with Grindelwald’s growing legion of followers.
Have you already watched Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore? If you didn’t, do you already have tickets to see the film? Can you explain McGonogall’s age to me? Let us know in the comments below and share your theories with us on Twitter.