‘Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore’ Review

To expand upon my quick thoughts in the video, Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore is a fantasy film directed by David Yates from a screenplay by J. K. Rowling and Steve Kloves (Kloves returning after writing on the Harry Potter film series). Featuring Eddie Redmayne, Jude Law, Ezra Miller, Dan Fogler, Alison Sudol, Callum Turner, Jessica Williams, Katherine Waterston, and Mads Mikkelsen, it is the third installment in the Fantastic Beasts film series and the eleventh overall in the Wizarding World franchise. Set a few years after the events of Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald, the story follows Albus Dumbledore and his allies as they embark on a mission to thwart the dark wizard Gellert Grindelwald’s plot to take over the International Confederation of Wizards.

At a fancy restaurant, Albus Dumbledore (Jude Law) drinks tea alone. Gellert Grindelwald (Mads Mikkelsen) magically appears, unbeknownst to the surrounding muggles, to catch up. The two seem happy to see each other and begin discussing their former friendship and youthful blood pact. The conversation then turns to Grindelwald’s plans to dominate the wizarding world. Before Grindelwald leaves Dumbledore says he will stop him.

In Asia, Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne) helps a Qilin give birth. Soon after, Grindelwald’s followers, led by Credence Barebone/Aurelius Dumbledore (Ezra Miller), appear and attack the Newt and the Qilin. After a quick fight, Newt is overpowered and the baby Qilin is taken. Returning to the mother, Newt realizes she gave birth to a second baby as she dies from her injuries. Newt passes out as he and the baby Qilin are flown away to safety by a creature from Newt’s briefcase.

The Fantastic Beasts series has been struggling since its inception. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them was well-received but didn’t the same box office return as the Harry Potter films. Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald received mixed reviews and an even lower box office haul. Since then, the most recent film has been plagued with the drama surrounding J. K. Rowling, the recasting of Johnny Depp, and the multiple arrests of Ezra Miller. One issue alone can derail a film, but having this many could make any studio reevaluate what they are doing. If Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore does not perform well,Warner Bros. Discovery may decide to end the franchise early. It wouldn’t be the first time a studio ended a series without a proper ending – see the Divergent Series.

This would be sad to see happen as Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore is a pretty fun experience. The score and visuals are pretty well done. The writing is improved thanks to the return of Steven Klove who helps Rowling craft a story that is more adult than what we’ve had before. The acting is terrific and probably the best of all three films. Jude Law steals the show as Dumbledore once again. His addition to the franchise was perfect casting and I can’t imagine anyone else playing Dumbledore at this age. Also, while Collin Ferrell and Johnny Depp were each great as Grindelwald, Mads Mikkelsen brings a certain charisma previously unseen in the character. His chemistry with Jude Law is phenomenal, making their characters’ love for each other believable in every scene they shared. Reprising his role as Jacob Kowalski, Dan Fogler once again does a great job bringing the human element to the feature. While his story does seem to wrap up in this entry, it would be nice to see him return in the future. Newcomer Lally Hicks (Jessica Williams) brought more comedy and swagger to a series that is honestly, lacking in Black characters, and obviously a replacement for Tina Goldstein (Katherine Waterston) who is barely in the film.

The main issue with the series has always been the number of films they planned to make. When the series was first announced it was going to be a trilogy, but then a few months later J. K. Rowling announced that it would be increased to five films. Her reason being that there is so much story to tell that three films aren’t enough. However, we all know that was code for “the studio wants to make more money by releasing two more films.” This increase was a mistake and the stretching of the story was evident in the second film. If they had stuck to the original three-picture plan, they could have had a solid story without the unnecessary fluff in the middle. The second issue has always been the attachment to the Fantastic Beasts brand.

Personally, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them should have been a one-off. It was a nice self-contained story that didn’t need a direct sequel. The Wizarding World is filled with so much history and lore that they can make dozens of films. Making a prequel about Grindelwald and Dumbledore is a great idea and if characters from Fantastic Beasts appear it helps the connectivity of the world. Like how characters appear throughout the MCU. If anything, the two recent films should have had the implicative title “The Wizarding World,” as the beasts are no longer the focus or none at all as the characters are recognizable enough, i.e., the James Bond franchise.

Overall, this entry in the Wizarding World functions as a soft reboot for the Fantastic Beasts series which was understandably necessary. Jude Law and Mads Mikkelsen turn in phenomenal performances and should be the main focus going forward. I give Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore a Decent 7/10. While I don’t think two more films are necessary, having one more entry to wrap this series would be greatly appreciated!

Leave a Reply