The third instalment of Fantastic Beasts is on air – filled with twists, shocks and moments of true bravery. The lingering glances, the wistful remembrances of a love that could not be, the simmering passion within the genteel setting of an afternoon tea: The opening scene of “Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore” is hot. And it’s all the more so because the actors playing opposite each other, Jude law and Mad Mikkelsen are both beautiful men who bring a striking screen presence as well as a subtle sense of emotion to this moment. Then it’s all downhill from there, albeit with a few thrills and enjoyable diversions scattered along the way.
Critics are just upset with These “Fantastic Beasts” movies and most of them say that they are just not good. They’re extremely OK, but never truly inspiring or transporting. This third instalment is somewhat of an improvement over 2018’s dour “The Crimes of Grindelwald,” and it’s about on par with the first film in the series, 2018 “Fantastic Beast and where to find them” in terms of pure enjoyment. They’re all chasing the dragon of that astronomical, worldwide, once-in-a-generation “Harry Potter” success, but each new movie in this spinoff franchise reminds us of how unnecessary and inferior they are.
Eddie Redmayne Newt Scamander, the magizoologist who’s been our conduit into this wizarding world that predates the Potterverse by about 70 years, isn’t even the main character here. He’s a flitty and fidgety cog in the machinery of Law’s young Albus Dumbledore, who hatches schemes within the cozy warmth of various vests and scarves. Dumbledore’s bad romance with burgeoning villain Gellert Grindelwald (Mikkelsen, taking over for a troubled Johnny Deppeventually bursts because, well, Grindelwald has some questionable ideas about how to deal with Muggles: He wants to eradicate them. “With or without you, I’ll burn down their world, Albus,” he tells Dumbledore over an otherwise lovely tea. The racism of such purebloods, which emerged as a theme in “The Crimes of Grindelwald,” becomes more pronounced here, especially given the setting of 1930s Berlin.
Also wedged in is Ezra Miller as Grindelwald minion Credence Barebone, whose true identity is, ostensibly, one of the secrets of Dumbledore. (The other is that … Dumbledore is gay? Which was hinted at in the second film, and will remain a secret to viewers watching this movie in China.) But significant stakes remain elusive, even in a film that runs well over two hours. Miller brings the requisite unsettling vibe to the role, but his presence is an unfortunate distraction, given the reports of his recent disturbing, off-screen behaviour. It’s just one more problem for this bland, Covid-delayed series, which supposedly has two more entire films in the works. It’ll take a great deal of powerful magic to pull those off successfully.
In the end, The Secrets of Dumbledore’s reliance on connecting to Dumbledore and Harry Potter is its fatal flaw. There’s no chance to enjoy any new story elements because the film is constantly reminding us of ones we’ve seen before. Plus, all these references to Harry Potter negate The Secrets of Dumbledore’s stakes. If you’ve read or seen Harry Potter, you know that Dumbledore eventually defeats Grindelwald, making the ending of this franchise a foregone conclusion. If I wanted to watch the wizarding world unite against a Muggle-hating dark wizard.
Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore was released in theatres on April 15 and Harry Potter fans are liking it throughout the world.