After 'Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald', there was an obvious shift in the way fans perceived any new additions to the 'Harry Potter' universe, and it has led to a number of questions: does Joanne's involvement automatically mean it wouldn't be good? Maybe kickstarting a five-film franchise about Grindelwald's and Dumbledore's pasts through the eyes of a mild-mannered "magizooologist" wasn't the best way to go about it? We then, of course, have the Twitter Incident - read my 'Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2' retrospective for more on that - as well as the Grindelwald casting debacle. It's almost as if this franchise that no one particularly wanted or cared about was bound to fizzle out, but nevertheless here we are with the arrival of the latest chapter, 'Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore'.
Grindelwald's (Mads Mikkelsen, 'Another Round', 'Doctor Strange') threatening grip on the Wizarding World grows tighter, but Dumbledore (Jude Law, 'Spy', 'Captain Marvel') is preparing to take him down, forming an army of his own. Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne, 'Les Misérables', 'The Theory of Everything'), his older brother Theseus (Callum Turner, 'Emma.', 'The Only Living Boy in New York'), his assistant Bunty (Victoria Yeates), muggle (or "no-maj") Jacob Kowalski (Dan Fogler, TV's 'The Walking Dead'), French wizard Yusuf (William Nadylam) and Professor Lally (Jessica Williams, 'Booksmart') are each tasked with individual missions to confuse and thwart Grindelwald's followers. Meanwhile, Queenie Goldstein (Alison Sudol, 'Between Us') is battling with her decision to abandon her friends and join the dark wizards.
Once again, after the lengthy two and a half hour runtime, the same question arises: what is the point of this franchise? The status quo remains unchanged, and we walk out of the film exactly the same way we walked in. Almost every character is forgettable, yet still they insist on adding a swarm of new characters with their own complications, and while the actors are obviously trying, each one we meet is just as disposable as the next.
The film isn't quite as absurd as its predecessor 'The Crimes of Grindelwald', which contains some of the wildest revelations put to film, somehow making this entry both better and worse. It's not as outlandish, which unfortunately makes it so much more boring. Similarly to the second instalment, we are left with more questions than answers; I'm still wondering, "Wait, what exactly are Dumbledore's secrets?"
However, there were some positives! They actually (finally) officially add to the text some revelations the author of 'Harry Potter' (name unknown) made about Dumbledore through a series of tweets a couple of years back. Unfortunately though, most of the dialogue that reveals this information could easily be changed or altered for other international releases. The action set pieces in the middle of the film are extremely enjoyable, but came far too late and then leave the audience wanting as nothing as exciting as those scenes happens again. Lally is easily one of the best newer characters (who was apparently in 'The Crimes of Grindelwald', just showing how forgettable that film was), and even though she is given very little to do, this really proves just how talented the actress is. Lastly and quite possibly the most importantly, the recasting of Grindelwald is easily the best decision made about the character. Whether you like the original actor or not, he was distracting and unsuited to the role, and the costume design seemed out of place. Mikkelsen has a more menacing quality about him - yet again, given too little to do - but is excellently cast as Grindelwald. They also don't address the casting change, the plot just moving along normally.
Once again, after the lengthy two and a half hour runtime, the same question arises: what is the point of this franchise? The status quo remains unchanged, and we walk out of the film exactly the same way we walked in.
At the conclusion of this latest entry in the Wizarding World, I just left with "Why?" - why is this franchise still going after all this controversy? Why is it still called 'Fantastic Beasts'? And most importantly, why the hell is Credence (Ezra Miller, 'Justice League', 'The Perks of Being a Wallflower') still here?
The next two films are still slated for release, though producer David Heyman has said work on the script for the fourth film hasn't even begun, which is alarming for a franchise that was originally sold as five films. Personally, I think they are waiting to see how this film performs before deciding to continue or call it quits. The film does have a neat ending that can either be taken as The End or provides the potential to continue, which is one of the reasons why this third entry feels so frustrating; there is no status change to warrant two more films!
'Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore' only further illustrates how much the 'Harry Potter' universe, as run by Joanne, needs to be put to rest. The film isn't interested in exploring new areas of the Wizard World, simply playing it safe which results in an ultimately boring product. The real shame is that there is so much more that could be explored in this world - a lot from the original books - but this is what die-hard fans get rewarded with? A tired, boring, uninteresting snoozefest.