Friday, 26 August 2022

Film Review: Fantastic Beasts – The Secrets of Dumbledore


The third (and hopefully final) Fantastic Beasts film from director David Yates is a slow and uninteresting slog, completely bereft of the Wizarding World's magic. 

Talk about diminishing returns. Not content with putting the DC Universe into a tailspin, Warner Brothers is persisting with plans to make Fantastic Beasts a thing. Enter stage right the third film in this exercise, The Secrets of Dumbledore, which follows the continuing adventures of magizoologist Newt Scamander (an insufferable Eddie Redmayne), young Dumbledore (Jude Law) and their band of dull supporting characters, as they face off against the forces of evil.  

After stories set in New York and Paris, this time around we're off to 1932 Berlin for a political conspiracy-laden narrative that feels a little familiar for the time period and setting. After escaping imprisonment, Gellert Grindelwald (Mads Mikkelsen, replacing Johnny Depp) is once again up to no good, this time using dark magic to try and rig an election, making himself the preferred candidate for the role of Supreme Mugwump (yes, really). 

So it's a race against time to prevent Grindelwald from becoming leader of the magical world, as Dumbledore – unable to duel Grindelwald due to a childhood love pact – assembles a ramshackle team led by Newt, his brother Theseus (Callum Turner) and returning Muggle mate Jacob (Dan Fogler).

Clocking in at nearly two-and-a-half hours, The Secrets of Dumbledore is the longest of the three Fantastic Beasts films – and also the dullest. There's a real lack of momentum with these films, with only some vague overarching plot to provide propulsion. 

The Secrets of Dumbledore, much like the two films that came before it, feels like a film at odds with itself, as two competing ideas vie for the limelight. On the one side, is the 'fantastic beasts' part, where Newt and his magical briefcase of wonders encounter weird and wonderful creatures and critters from the magical world. 

On the other, is the aforementioned political thriller, about a charismatic leader using propaganda and dangerous rhetoric to whip up hate in 1930s Europe. There's a dodgy election, lots of political manoeuvring, you get the picture – can you see how those don't click?

It's an issue that extends to our protagonist, Newt. You see, Newt's too pure for this world, an unassuming and idealistic man who seemingly has no dog in this fight, aside from his inexplicable friendship with Dumbledore. 

Meanwhile, our other protagonist – Law's Dumbledore – and his adversary – Mikkelsen's Grindelwald – are caught in this solemn story about friends slash lovers who are now pitted against one another.

Three films in, and there's little to no connection with any of these characters, aside from maybe Fogler's Muggle Kowalski. Who is Newt, really, aside from a shy and sheepish. Why should we care about Dumbledore and Grindelwald's relationship, if all they share are one or two scenes?

There's a 10 to 15 minute stint, somewhere in the middle, where the group reconvenes at Hogwarts to reassess their plan. There's a lick of the original John Williams score, a scene set in the Great Hall, some chit-chat about awarding points to Hufflepuff. That's as close as this film comes to recapturing the magic of the Harry Potter films, before we're back in some mix of YA tripe and John Le Carre spy shit. 

The Verdict: 3/10

Other than the hardcore Potter fans, I don't know who would dig this. Drab, dull and just a really pitiful attempt to recapture that original Potter lustre. 

Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore in available on home formats now.

1 comment:

  1. I know it's available on HBO right now but I don't really have any interest in seeing this as I just lost interest in the whole Harry Potter world for a while as I read the treatment of The Cursed Child and I didn't like it and then came the 2nd film of the Fantastic Beasts series and I fucking hated it. I became more annoyed by Eddie Redmayne in that film and if I was in the theaters in that big reveal. I would've screamed FUCKING BULLSHIT as if I was the Iron Sheik. I wouldn't be surprised if Warner Discovery chooses to keep this in an attempt to milk out more bullshit from J.K. Rowling as I smell bankruptcy coming in the next few years. I loved Harry Potter but there comes a time when we all have to move on.



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