Fantastic Beasts and the Secrets of Dumbledore

Cast: Eddie Redmayne, Jude Law, Mads Mikkelsen, Dan Fogler, Ezra Miller, Callum Turner
Director: David Yates
Writer: Steve Kloves (Story by JK Rowling)

It feels like a century since we last went on an adventure with Newt (Redmayne), Tina (Katherine Waterstone), Queenie (Alison Sudol) and Jacob (Fogler). At the end of Fantastic Beasts and the Crimes of Grindelwald we left the gang in Paris where they fought Grindelwald (then portrayed by Johnny Depp) in an elaborate battle, and in the process lost one of their own, Leta LeStrange (Zoe Kravitz). 

In a dramatic cliff hanger, Credence (Miller) was left traumatised when he found out he was in fact part of the Dumbledore bloodline, a plot point that fans across the world questioned with strong arguments based on the already established history of the Dumbledore family. 

The third instalment of the supposedly five-part series has had a lot of obstacles to overcome along the way. After Warner Bros. made the decision to recast Johnny Depp’s Grindelwald with the highly celebrated Mads Mikkelsen, the production was put on hold. The production team then recruited Potter favourite, screenplay writer Steve Kloves to take over from JK Rowling who penned the first two instalments. JK Rowling herself was then centre of controversy, leading to actress Katherine Waterstone distancing herself from the role. And, if that wasn’t enough, in the weeks leading up to the films release, Ezra Miller has been arrested, restrained and the topic of conversation relating to an assault accusation. 

So to say the film has been through the ringer is an understatement. 

The second part of the spin-off franchise (Fantastic Beasts and the Crimes of Grindlewald) received varied reviews and led people to lose faith in the series. Leading fans to question its position in Warner Bros. Wizard World Cinematic Universe. 

Has Secrets of Dumbledore done enough to restore that faith? Probably not. Is it more enjoyable than it’s prequel? Most definitely. 

I suppose it makes sense for me to approach the Grindelwald in the room first. As a life long Johnny Depp fan it is going to take me a few watches to get used to the dramatic change, not only in actor, but in character. Mads Mikkelsen is a fantastic actor, there’s no doubt about that, but his stripped back, sinister take on the super villain is a completely new vision compared to Depp’s crazed, evil portrayal. That’s not to say I didn’t enjoy the performance, if Mikkelsen had owned the role from the start it would have worked a charm, it just seems like quite a dramatic jump from what we saw of Depp previously. 

Jude Law and Eddie Redmayne don’t miss the target in their wholesome portrayals of the two main characters. Introducing Richard Coyle as Aberforth Dumbledore was inspired casting, he embodies the inner turmoil of the character that we originally witnessed in Deathly Hallows part 2. The return of Jacob and Queenie gave the film the softer touch it needed, it’s a lot of doom and gloom without the forbidden love story that the Muggle and witch have to tell.

Despite the title “Secrets of Dumbledore” being fairly ambiguous, considering there are three Dumbledore’s in this film, I was expecting more from Credence. I always enjoy Ezra Miller’s performances (despite his behaviour off screen) and I’d have liked to have seen more of his characters tortured tale.

In the same way as the two previous films, the plot is over complicate and attempts to follow the story of too many characters, leaving the audience loosing track of who’s who and where everyone is. 

Kloves managed to pull the body of the film back to the original brief, this film is not short of a Fantastic Beast or two. Teddy the Niffler and Picket the Bowtruckle are, without a doubt, scene stealers. And thanks to the improved visual effects, both have the desired presence in every shot, resulting in (most) audience members audibly “aww-ing” every time we see them. 

Character developments are both crucially important and feverishly risky when writing prequels, even more so when telling stories of characters that are so incredibly beloved as those in the Potter-verse. I think Kloves and Rowling have managed to hone in on the character relationships and personalities enough to keep audiences watching and (in my case) hoping for more, whilst sprinkling the script with enough fan service to keep the Potter-heads interested.

I thoroughly enjoyed it, anyone expecting these films to be as good as the Harry Potter series are fooling themselves, but it’s worth a watch and it’s redeeming qualities from the second film allow it to captivate the audience, heart warming, shocking at times and most importantly, entertaining. 

I can’t wait to see what’s next for Newt, Teddy and Picket. 

Fantastic Beasts and the Secrets of Dumbledore