Directed by Harry Potter veteran David Yates, “Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore” sees Newt Scamander once again reeled into an ongoing war between good and evil where the fate of the Wizarding World is in jeopardy.
“The Secrets of Dumbledore” is full of amazing portrayals. Taking on the mantle of the evil wizard Grindelwald is Mads Mikkelsen, who is undoubtedly the standout of this movie. Mikkelsen once again demonstrates his commanding presence on screen by infusing both the character and the series with some much needed nuance and confidence.
Eddie Redmayne also disappears behind his character, much like in the previous two movies. Unfortunately, with the series moving further and further away from his story to that of Dumbledore, Redmayne does not have much room to work in. Jude Law also reprises his role as a young Albus Dumbledore, successfully bringing all the charisma and power of the character to life. Fans of the Harry Potter universe will not be disappointed by these portrayals.
The same cannot be said for Ezra Miller’s character. While Miller’s character is supposed to be an important part of the overall plot, his screen time is minimal and always underwhelming. This can be attributed to the extensive rewrites the movie went through and recent controversies surrounding Miller’s personal life.
Visually, the movie is stunning. Every character looks sharp and on point as the costume design for this movie is on par if not better than every other movie in the universe.
The magic the wizardry fans know and love is back and better than ever. With the exception of some clunky interactions between real characters and computer generated creatures, the movie is visually flawless. Yates seems to have learned to ease back from heavy handed color palettes in favor of more colorful characters and sets. From set and costume design to VFX, this is a proper blockbuster in terms of visual quality.
However, this is far from being a perfect movie. The movie deeply struggles while trying to stay true to its series title of “Fantastic Beasts.” For most of its runtime, the movie spends time on Dumbledore’s iconic schemes and his ongoing battle with Grindelwald. This creates friction with our supposed main character and his passion for the strange creatures of the magical world. Often, it feels like the movie has to come up with ridiculous excuses to justify introducing new creatures to attempt to remain true to what it once stood for.
Unfortunately, these are not the only issues with the plotting. “The Secrets of Dumbledore” follows along with the trend set by its predecessors of being unnecessarily complex and convoluted. While the movie improved its clarity compared to the second installment in the series, the plot remains complicated and with plot holes.
Even though the movie is set within in a universe well known by millions of fans across the world, the movie fails to capture the essence and heart of the Harry Potter movies. Emotional moments seem forced or unearned because the movie has not taken the time and effort to make audiences fall in love with its characters or story. It simply expects audiences to love anything related to the universe of Harry Potter.
“Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore” remains a fun and entertaining way to spend one’s time. While the heart of the original series might not be present in its story, the movie has enough charm to warrant a viewing. Wonderful acting and visuals are also enough to make up for its unnecessarily complex plot. “The Secrets of Dumbledore” is a fine movie, but it fails to achieve what it claims to stand on.