FANTASTIC BEASTS: THE SECRETS OF DUMBLEDORE – A Review by Cynthia Flores
There are so many spoilers that I could drop in this review to give you a complete take on this latest film in the J.K. Rowling magic universe. But that would be such a muggle thing to do. So instead, I will hit the highlights and answer a few of the questions out there.
This film is the third (and hopefully not the last) installment of 2016’s Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find them. Everyone is back from the previous film except Johnny Depp as the evil wizard Gellert Grindelwald. Due to his troubles in the media as of late, he has been replaced by one of Denmark’s most prominent movie stars, the award-winning actor Mads Mikkelsen. Mads is so good at this part that you forget he was not the first to play it. Sorry, Johnny.
Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore picks up where Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald ended. In that film, Newt (Eddie Redmayne) and his group of friends and heroes split up. The witch Queenie Goldstein (Alison Sudol) even joined Grindelwald’s group of followers. However, things looked dark for the world as Grindelwald planned to use his followers to wage war against the muggles. For those of you who do not know, a muggle is a person without magical abilities in the Harry Potter series.
In this new movie, the magizoologist Newt Scamander is still working for Hogwarts professor Albus Dumbledore (Jude Law) to track down and stop Grindelwald. Newt convinces his old friend and muggle Jacob Kowalski (Dan Fogler) to join his small team determined to stop Grindelwald. The time period is 1930s Europe and Weimar Berlin. Grindelwald, now out of prison and on the run, plans to gain absolute control of the wizarding world. He knows their laws and beliefs and will use them to be accepted by their democratic gathering to choose a new leader of the wizarding world. Dumbledore directs this crew of good guys, which include Newt, Jacob, Newt’s brother Theseus (Callum Turner), Professor Lally Hicks (Jessica Williams), and Wizard Yusuf Kama (William Nadylam). The gang is rounded out by Newt’s assistant Bunty Broadacre (Victoria Yeates). Will Grindelwald succeed with his hateful mandate to pursue a war against the muggles? You will have to see the movie to find out.
JK Rowling co-wrote the screenplay for this film with Steve Kloves. David Yates, a Potter veteran, directs this movie —keeping the look and feel of this chapter of the story locked into the rich fabric of storytelling that this movie is part of. The Secrets of Dumbledore is a lush-looking fantasy adventure with some amazing production design and visual effects. 1930s New York practically breaths all on its own during the parts of the story played out there. The “Secrets” are not really that earth-shattering; they are just more layers added to the mythology of the Potter timeline.
Speaking of which, the storyline gestures at something overwhelmingly evil. Still, this franchise’s non-committal open-ended storytelling style always leaves you wanting more, especially with its suspended resolutions, hinting that Grindelwald is not gone for good. I am sure that Rowling has it all mapped out to bring this story’s end to where the Harry Potter one begins.
This film is not perfect by any means. However, it is good-natured entertainment with stunning visual effects and fighting scenes that will blow your mind. Also, there are enough actual, laugh-out-loud moments that make you glad to be in a live theater setting to enjoy it with the group. The film fits well into this canon and has enough sense of its heritage to keep the fans happy.
I give Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore 4-stars. It’s helped the franchise turn a corner in breaking out from under the mighty shadow of the main Harry Potter franchise. It’s a movie filled with magic by adults and some kick-ass action. What more could you want?
Directed by: David Yates
Written by: J.K. Rowling, Steve Kloves
Selig Rating: 4 Stars
Running Time: 2h 23min
Fantasy / Adventure
Wide Theatrical Only Release: In Theaters Everywhere April 15th
Starring: Eddie Redmayne, Jude Law, Ezra Miller, Dan Fogler, Mads Mikkelsen
The Selig Rating Scale:
5 Stars – Excellent movie, well worth the price.
4 Stars – Good movie
3 Stars – OK movie
2 Stars – No need to rush. Save it for a rainy day.
1 Star – Good that I saw it on the big screen but wish I hadn’t paid for it.