Dumbledore’s got a secret to tell you, and it’s not where he has been hiding his fantastic beasts
Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore is the third part of Warner Bros expansion of JK Rowlings Potter Wizarding World. It follows the mega successful Harry Potter films and two other profitable ‘Fantastic Beasts’ movies. But while the last two made money, the level of interest and fandom never reached Harry Potter levels.
Following pandemic related delays, loss of favour with series creator JK Rowling (her views on gender have been viewed as offensive by the transgender community). Coupled with legal issues for two of the series main stars (Ezra Miller and Johnny Depp), it left people asking the question, does anyone still care about Dumbledores secrets?
Having never read the Harry Potter books growing up, I was quite late to the wizarding party. Despite many Potter fans telling me I must watch them. It meant that by the time I actually got round to viewing, all eight films had already been released. I had the pleasure of ‘binge watching’ all movies and witnessed the original trio grow up before my eyes in a matter of days. I developed a real connection with the characters and the plights/adventures they faced.
When the Fantastic Beasts series was first announced as prequels to the Harry Potter story, I felt it was just a cash in. It wasn’t going to feature the trio I was interested in and much like the forthcoming Game of Thrones prequels, I opted to stay away. The first two films seemed moderately interesting from their trailers but again i chose to ignore them. I always expected that my friends who were fans of the ‘wizarding world’, would soon tell me what I was missing out on.
But two films in and I’ve heard no such excitement or recommendation from any of those voices. So, with the third films’ release, I was curious enough to want to find out why wizarding fans weren’t raving about this release and if the fans were not that interested, who exactly was this movie made for? I entered Fantastic Beasts 3 having never seen either of the previous two films, to see as well as other things, whether it could stand on its own.
‘Secrets of Dumbledore’ stars Jude Law as a younger version of the legendary Dumbledore from the Potter series. He plays a King Arthur type character, bringing together his ‘knights’ to fight an upcoming battle. If Dumbledore is Arthur, that would make Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne) his Merlin. He travels the land with a briefcase that matches Mary Poppins handbag for capacity. Appearing regular on the outside but has the capacity to carry the Fantastic Beasts and other important creatures he finds.
Mads Mikkelsen steps in to replace Johnny Depp as the bad guy Gellert Grindelwald. There is also a supporting cast of new and retuning wizards from the previous films in the series and one featured returning ‘muggle’ (human) Dan Foger, played by Jacob Kowalski.
The plot of the film is laid out in the first 10mins of the movie, possibly for people like me unfamiliar with things so far. Good guy and bad guy are old friends. One wants to help humans and live in peace; one wants to rule/wipe them out. So, it’s Professor X and Magneto? Got it. The heart of the movie is very much about the relationship between these two characters and the secrets they both hold about their pasts.
It’s not the first time we have seen this type of good guy/bad guy dynamic. But whilst we normally might ask, ‘why don’t they just try and kill one another?’ This film at least presents a very solid reason why they can’t directly attack each other, which I thought was quite cool.
So, the characters begin a proxy war, using their soldiers to take shots at each other. There is also an overarching story of the good guys (Dumbledores army) trying to prevent Grindelwald from becoming head of the ministry of magic and waging war on humans. Whilst the plot points and motivations were quite clear, there was more than one occasion where I felt lost by not knowing a particular character’s background, which were likely covered in the previous movies. There were telling looks, old photos, and long gazes which no doubt would have had some meaning to me had I been fully up to speed.
The performances are solid all round and there was a real intensity between Dumbledore and Grimwald that genuinely made me feel there were even more secrets to be revealed about their pasts. The Beasts were bright and colourful, not necessarily fantastic but occasionally amusing and comical. The animation and effects are on par with what you would expect from a big franchise and while there weren’t many combat scenes, the ones on display are flashy enough to say, ‘that looks cool’, but not much else
Secrets of Dumbledore has slightly piqued my interest in the franchise, but not enough to go back and watch the previous two films. If this is the least popular in the series (according to current box office predictions), then that’s quite a good advert for the first two movies as I honestly didn’t think this film was bad. I might have been more enthusiastic If I had seen either of the previous films and had some connection to the characters.
If you’ve never had an interest in this wizarding world, this film would not change your mind. But if you still harbour fond memories from the Harry Potter series and are considering trying this, I would highly recommend watching the previous two films first. And who knows, you might just find the magic has been waiting there for you all along.
Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore is out in cinemas now -Watch the official trailer here or view all the character posters below