Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore
Warner Brothers Pictures
Written by J.K. Rowling and Steve Kloves
Directed by David Yates
Starring Eddie Redmayne, Jude Law, Dan Fogler, Ezra Miller, Mads Mikkelsen, Alison Sudol, Callum Turner, Richard Coyle, Jessica Williams, William Nadylam, Maja Bloom, Poppy Corby-Tuech and Katherine Waterston
Professor Albus Dumbledore (Jude Law) knows the powerful Dark wizard Gellert Grindelwald (Mads Mikkelsen) is moving to seize control of the wizarding world. Unable to stop him alone, he entrusts Magizoologist Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne) to lead an intrepid team of wizards, witches and one brave Muggle baker on a dangerous mission, where they encounter old and new beasts and clash with Grindelwald’s growing legion of followers. But with the stakes so high, how long can Dumbledore remain on the sidelines?
The latest film in the Wizarding World saga takes a definite serious turn as the rise of Grindelwald forces Dumbledore to act. Unfortunately, it has to be in secret. Enlisting the help of friends and colleagues, Dumbledore attempts to thwart Grindelwald’s attempts to take over control of the wizarding world in order to star a war between wizards and humans.
As a fan of the series, I went into this film with a lot of hope. These films have a wonderful way of making the magic within them seem wonderous and the Fantastic Beasts series has historically done this while also showcasing new and exotic creatures that connect to that magic. Unfortunately, I never got a sense of magic in this latest film ironically.
The movie looks really good and Yates’ history with the franchise means he knows how to craft the world of these characters, but the movie is so dour and depressing that none of the visual charm that Yates tries to convey comes through. There are some nice magical moments within it, but they are routinely drowned out by the dark story and depressing characters.
There are some highlights. Fogler is great as Jacob, but his role is reduced too much. Jacob is the audiences eyes in the wizarding world. His point of view has always matched the audience’s as we collectively marvel at the fantastic things we see around us. There isn’t enough of that in the movie. His being partnered with Williams’ character Hicks is fun, but he should be the one by Newt Scamander’s side during his adventures and they are mostly kept apart for most of the film.
The films started with Redmayne’s Scamander as the main protagonist, but he feels like a passenger in his own film. He doesn’t have any real journey in the movie other than to clean up other people’s messes. He doesn’t even have the kind of interactions with Law’s Dumbledore that would justify his inclusion in the story beyond having a magical creature at the center of the plot.
Mikkelsen usually commands the screen, especially when he’s playing the villain. I never got a sense of menace from him. I never got a sense that he could command or lead others to fight and die for him and the film never really showcases his cause in any way to justify his actions. If anyone came into this film not seeing the previous ones, they would seriously ask themselves what Grindelwald wants and why.
The Secrets of Dumbledore is a great looking film with some interesting characters and set pieces. The effects are great, but the story is suffering from a level of fatigue that I felt as a viewer. I kept waiting for something to happen and was disappointed in how slow paced it was. As much as I love the Wizarding World and its character, the Secrets of Dumbledore could have stayed hidden.