“Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore” made me reminisce on my Harry Potter days. But the Fantastic Beasts series has big shoes to fill, with the Harry Potter movie franchise being one of the most successful series of all time, grossing almost $8 billion worldwide. This installment is the third of a proposed five-movie series that chronicles the journey of Magizoologist Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne, “Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald”) and his amazing magical creatures. “Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore” is a similar addition to the Fantastic Beasts series and does not offer anything extremely intriguing or game-changing.
The screenplay for this movie is written by Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling, infamously known for posting a series of transphobic tweets. She makes this film a scarce source of clarity for the second Fantastic Beasts movie, briefly shedding light on ambiguous ideas such as Dumbledore and Grindelwald’s romantic history, while continuing to underserve the LGBTQ+ community. There are many disappointing plot lines that Rowling missed out on, which are written about in more detail in Daily Arts Writer Elizabeth Yoon’s “Newt Scamander, who cares: 7 reasons why I’m skipping Fantastic Beasts.” The movie fosters a tension between Dumbledore and Grindelwald, who want to defeat each other but cannot shake their affection for one another. It feels like a missed opportunity to go into more depth on the history between them, which still feels pretty ambiguous, especially since the movie’s title indicates that their secrets will finally be revealed.
The first two movies of the series take place in 1920s New York, with a rivalry established between Newt and his friends and the notorious wizard villain, Grindelwald (originally played by Johnny Depp, “Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl”). The two movies follow Newt and co. as they attempt to track down Grindelwald and engage in citywide battles in an effort to capture him. In this movie, Albus Dumbledore (Jude Law, “The Nest”), enlists the help of Newt to take down Grindelwald (now played by Mads Mikkelsen, “Riders of Justice”) yet again, and his apprentice, Credence (Ezra Miller, “Zack Snyder’s Justice League”), who holds immense power from a dark, parasitic force. The premise pretty much seems to parallel the Harry Potter movies, with the same hero-villain wizard battles being the center focus. While it is a noticeably similar plot, it did not feel repetitive due to differences in character age, location and small subtleties in the subplots. However, I don’t think this series will ever be able to top the idolized British film series, since it has reached such a high level of unwavering fondness over the years. Nonetheless, it serves as a relatively strong spinoff series.
While the plot seems repetitive, the cinematography and special effects have definitely advanced since the final Harry Potter movie was released. The entire series has beautiful aerial shots of breathtaking scenery and remarkably realistic wand effects that intensify the magical feeling. The film score contained “Hedwig’s Theme” and other whimsical ensemble elements that created an enchanted lust for the past and made me reminiscent of the original movies. These elements reminded me of why I loved the originals so much, but the plot does not contain enough adventurous twists to match the Harry Potter series. The third of five films, “Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore”, almost felt like a filler movie for this series; the plot did not carry many storyline elements from the first two movies, and nothing revolutionary of note occurred that would’ve changed the course of the series. While I was slightly disappointed by this, the movie definitely created an exciting vibe for Harry Potter fanatics. “Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore” is a fun watch for Wizarding World fans everywhere, and the series is an amusing, but slightly inferior, spinoff to the original.
Daily Arts Writer Zara Manna can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.