Fantastic Beasts The Secrets Of Dumbledore Review

“Although it still fails to live up to the promise of the first movie; Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets Of Dumbledore delivers a truly magical sequel in every sense”

After a sensational launch in Where To Find Them, the Fantastic Beasts franchise has struggled to emerge from the long shadow of the Harry Potter series. The sequel, The Crimes Of Grindelwald suffered from a convoluted and messy plot that added very little to the series. And throughout its overblown running time, readily departed from the “Beasts” aspects that brought us to the dance in the first place. In the time since its release, Warner Bros. has dragged the threequel into life kicking and screaming. And now, despite its well-publicized dramas, The Secrets Of Dumbledore is here to carry us back to the Wizarding World. But can it restore the balance and bring us back on course to the promised land of magical marvelousness? Or are we doomed to endure another two-hour plot-filling spell at Hogwarts?

Fear not Wizarding World fans because Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets Of Dumbledore sticks the landing and improves upon its predecessor in spades. And although it’s not without its flaws, it delivers a compelling, bold, and dark adventure that brings the “Beasts” back to the fore. But more importantly, it successfully emerges from the shadow of the Potterverse and carves out a niche all of its own; all the while paying homage to the roots of its characters, and the lore of the Wizarding World.

THE PLOT

The plot of the threequel centers on the rising threat of Gellert Grindelwald and his mysterious connection to Albus Dumbledore (Jude Law). As revealed in the last outing, a magical blood pact restricts both parties from moving against the other. And the threequel picks up where we left off and follows the breadcrumbs to their inevitable and shocking conclusion. Grindelwald (now played by the unswervable Mads Mikkelsen) is building his legions and plots to seize control of the wizarding world. But with Dumbledore’s hands seemingly tied, he enlists the help of Magizoologist Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne) and tasks him with building a team to prevent Grindewald’s rise to power.

Fantastic Beasts The SEcrets Of Dumbledore
JUDE LAW as Albus Dumbledore in Warner Bros. Pictures’ fantasy adventure “FANTASTIC BEASTS: THE SECRETS OF DUMBLEDORE,” a Warner Bros. Pictures release.

After a revelation-filled beginning, we are reunited with Newt Scamander. And I am delighted to report that he is back on his quest to preserve the creatures of the wizarding world. It’s a heartwarming pursuit, one that is fraught with danger. And the result will have a profound impact on fans and cinephiles alike. It’s emotional stuff and departs from the lighthearted hijinks of the first outing and that is to the film’s advantage. Director David Yates certainly isn’t playing it safe in this adventure and throws caution to the wind to deliver some truly shocking twists and turns. And the movie is refreshingly different as a result.

(L-R) EDDIE REDMAYNE as Newt Scamander and Picket the Bowtruckle in Warner Bros. Pictures’ fantasy adventure “FANTASTIC BEASTS: THE SECRETS OF DUMBLEDORE,” a Warner Bros. Pictures release.

CHARACTERS

After being put on the ropes by the shocking opening moments, Yates gets to work on reuniting us with the magical characters we will be joining for this outing. With so much invested in Dumbledore’s secrets, it comes as no great surprise that much of the movie centers on his deep and personal connection to Grindelwald. And Jude Law grows into the role with zeal. Equally brilliant is the debuting Mads Mikkelsen. Filling the shoes of the “removed” Johnny Depp was always going to be a daunting challenge, but Mikkelsen steps up to the plate with vigor. As expected, he effortlessly slips into the role and makes it his own making the transition between the actors as seamless as possible. And I cannot applaud him enough.

As always, you can’t have a Fantastic Beasts movie without the pillars of the series. And Yates solidifies the cast by reuniting us with Newt Scamander, Jacob Kowalski, Theseus Scamander; Professor Eulalie “Lally” Hicks, Yusuf Kama, and Bunty Broadacre. These are the heroes that will see us through the long and often heavy 142 minutes. But thankfully, Kowalski, once again played by the hilarious Dan Fogler, lightens the mood whenever things tend to get weighed down by the ever-deepening plot. And sadly, these moments pop up more often than we will appreciate.

(L-R) DAN FOGLER as Jacob Kowalski, JESSICA WILLIAMS as Eulalie “Lally” Hicks, EDDIE REDMAYNE as Newt Scamander, and CALLUM TURNER as Theseus Scamander in Warner Bros. Pictures’ fantasy adventure “FANTASTIC BEASTS: THE SECRETS OF DUMBLEDORE,” a Warner Bros. Pictures release.

MAGICAL ADVENTURES 

With the cast in place, what follows is an adventure on multiple fronts. Kowalski joins the team hell-bent on winning Queenie Goldstein back from the seduction of Grindelwald. Newt and Theseus lead the team into the treacherous world of wizarding espionage which delivers many hilarious moments. And the true lineage of Credence Barebone is revealed for all to see. The frequent tense and heartwrenching moments deliver the perfect punch combo. But just as we reel from the blow, either Newt or Kowalski is on hand to cushion the blow and readdress the balance. It’s a hard balance to achieve, but Yates sticks the landing here. And in truth, it plays to its strengths in these moments and they pay off in a big way!

(L-R) Teddy the Niffler and Pickett the Bowtruckle in a scene from Warner Bros. Pictures’ fantasy adventure “FANTASTIC BEASTS: THE SECRETS OF DUMBLEDORE,” a Warner Bros. Pictures release.

THE CAST

If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a thousand times; the success of any movie hinges on the performances of its cast. And I’m delighted to report that everyone is on point here. Eddie Redmayne in his return as Newt Scamander delivers another wonderfully understated performance and puts us at ease almost immediately. Dan Fogler is a highlight of the movie. His tormented performance as Jacob Kowalski adds more layers to the character than ever before and delivers many poignant moments. Ezra Miller brings another level of despair to Credence Barebone and his dark and tortured demeanor will resonate with us all. And Alison Sudol delivers a subtlety conflicted performance as Queenie Goldstein.

But the standout performance goes to the inescapable Jude Law as Albus Dumbledore. This is the movie where Dumbledore truly grows as a character. And that is all down to the brilliance of Jude Law. This is his moment in the spotlight, and although Mads Mikkelsen threatens to steal the spotlight on more than one occasion, it’s Law who comes out on top as the credits begin to roll.

MADS MIKKELSEN as Gellert Grindelwald in Warner Bros. Pictures’ fantasy adventure “FANTASTIC BEASTS: THE SECRETS OF DUMBLEDORE,” a Warner Bros. Pictures release.

VERDICT

After the previous installment, my expectations were extremely low for The Secrets Of Dumbledore. But thankfully, the series is back on track after this stellar effort from David Yates. Resisting the urge to play it safe in this sequel, Yates has delivered a solid entry into the lore of the wizarding world.  The movie is packed to the brim with loose plot threads. But co-writer Steve Kloves expertly ties them all together with cleverness. The gargantuan 142 minutes running time is often arduous and crawls along at times. But anything less would detract from the overall splendor of what is a thoroughly enjoyable spell in the wizarding world.

James Newton Howard returns to deliver another robust score that harnesses the best of both the Fantastic Beasts and Harry Potter franchises. The musical nuances of John Willaims echo through Howard’s score giving us that feeling of familiarity that was lost throughout The Crimes Of Grindelwald. And this alone rights the ships and brings us back on course for the promised land of wizarding wonder.

(L-R) Pickett the Bowtruckle and EDDIE REDMAYNE as Newt Scamander in a scene from Warner Bros. Pictures’ fantasy adventure “FANTASTIC BEASTS: THE SECRETS OF DUMBLEDORE,” a Warner Bros. Pictures release.

Although it still fails to live up to the promise of the first movie; The Secrets Of Dumbledore delivers a truly magical sequel in every sense. If this is the shape of things to come then sign me up for another outing. This sequel is breathtaking and effortlessly catapults us into an adventure grand in scale, low on disappointment, and big on sentiment. And that alone is reason enough to celebrate a welcome return to magic!

 

Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets Of Dumbledore is released by Warner Bros. Pictures and lands in U.K Cinemas on Friday.

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