Review: Fantastic Beast: The Secrets of Dumbledore

The third installment of the Fantastic Beast series, Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore is another return to the wizarding world of Harry Potter. The Secrets of Dumbledore has all the accents that made the Potter franchise so popular – magic, wizards, wands, creatures, and a mission to stop evil. What this installment lacks is the heart and engaging storytelling that make the Potter films so much fun.

At its core, The Secrets of Dumbledore is about an election and Newt (Eddie Redmayne) and his team trying to stop Grindelwald (Mads Mikkelsen) from becoming Supreme Mugwump. With this power they fear Grindelwald would not only destroy the muggle world, but the wizarding world as well.

The film opens with Newt helping a magical creature give birth. Newt is attacked by Grindelwald’s followers, and they kill the mother creature and steal the newborn. Obviously, these magical creatures are important but sadly none of this is explained until much later.

Since Dumbledore (Jude Law) is unable to fight Grindelwald, because of a blood pact, he sends Newt and his team to fight a dangerous dark wizard and his devout followers – sounds familiar.

Between the kidnapped creature and Wizard Fascist Election Day, there are a few things that happen. We revisit Jacob (Dan Fogler) and Queenie’s (Alison Sudol) love story, Jessica Williams shows up as Professor Hicks, Newt acts quirky and spends most of the movie looking uncomfortable, and they fight a gigantic scorpion looking creature. All of this happens and none of it is interesting or entertaining. None of these people are plot points feel integral to the story.  

The film is guilty of two crimes…

The first crime is wasting a Mads Mikkelsen. Why? Mads could’ve been a fantastic Grindelwald and a top tier Harry Potter villain. Having him sit on the sideline while we watch a brooding Ezra Miller, people texting back-and-forth through magical mirrors, and wizards committing election fraud was a waste of time and talent.

The second crime is not making this a heist film. The premise is the perfect set up for a magical heist movie. There’s a scene where Newt brings the ragtag group together to explain the mission (check). Thesus (Callum Turner) gives the “We’re probably not going to survive this” speech (check). And there’s a suitcase scene that’s right out of an Oceans 11 movie (check). This could’ve been really fun; instead the film has lackadaisical storytelling and lazily limps to the end of its 142 minute runtime.

Fantastic Beast: The Secrets of Dumbledore should be the final film in this franchise. It’s a disappointing end to a series that started with a lot promise. Nothing fantastic happens, there are very few magical creatures, and most of the film feels like it’s on autopilot. If you’re in need of a wizarding fix, go watch Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.

Grade: C-