FANTASTIC Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore is the eleventh film in the Wizarding World movie universe, with the previous eight films belonging to the Harry Potter series. Given the film’s pedigree, anticipation for the new sequel is at an all-time high, with viewers and fans anticipating answers to questions raised since the release of the first Harry Potter film in 2001.
This film falls into the same pitfalls as its previous, delivering an unmanageable, generally uncomfortable mash-up of serious topics and childish silliness, made even more perplexing by too many subplots, too many characters, and a tone that veers dramatically off-course at every point.
The film opens with Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne) assisting in the birth of a qilin, a mystical creature with a pure heart and has the ability to see future. Gellert Grindelwald’s (Mads Mikkelsen, who replaces Johnny Depp) minions, led by Credence Barebone (Ezra Miller) then attack and kill the mother qilin, and steal the newborn, whom Grindelwald kills in order to harness its gift.
Newt and his brother Theseus (Callum Turner) are recruited by Albus Dumbledore (Jude Law) since he is unable to combat Grindelwald owing to a blood bond. The two are joined by wizard Yusuf Kama (William Nadylam), No-Maj Jacob Kowalski (Dan Fogler) and Lally Hicks (Jessica Williams) in a mission to stop Grindelwald’s scheme for world dominance.
Grindelwald has dispatched Credence to murder Dumbledore first, before rulers of the wizarding world assemble in Bhutan to elect the next Supreme Head through the ancient ritual of being judged worthy by a qilin, who bows to those who are pure in heart. Whether Albus and his team will be able to prevent Grindelwald’s ascension, and whether Grindelwald is chosen as the Supreme Head, are some of the remaining questions in the film.
The Secrets of Dumbledore is constantly divided into a split storyline, none of which feel important unless they happen to develop anywhere around Grindelwald. The jumbled bits of the tale barely add up, and they primarily serve to keep the protagonists busy until the election.
It’s incredibly easy to accept Mikkelsen as the wicked wizard Grindelwald in place of Depp. Mikkelsen complements Law’s intensity as Dumbledore, and is a great casting choice to see the saga through to its conclusion two films from now. Both actors create some exciting, almost thrilling parts that frequently draw our focus away from the bad storyline.
The film contains more blockbuster action sequences than the previous two films combined, from an assassination attempt at a dinner party concluding in a spectacular slow-motion paper trick, and on to a humorous jail break involving octo-spiders, before culminating with an actually quite cool duel between Dumbledore and Credence playing out solely in their imaginations.
However, Fantastic Beasts’ biggest flaw has always been its treatment of its supporting characters, who are there to fill in the gaps but are never thoroughly explored. The film does, in fact, carry on the franchise’s tradition of seeming detached from its previous instalment, and failing to provide any kind of convincing plot to justify a sequel.
Do we even have to sit through two more of these films? It’s time to release David Yates from the Wizarding World chains. It can end here.
Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore is out in theatres now.
DIRECTOR: David Yates
CAST: Eddie Redmayne, Jude Law, Mads Mikkelsen, Jessica Williams, Callum Turner, Dan Fogler and Ezra Miller