Director: David Yates
Cast: Eddie Redmayne, Jude Law, Katherine Waterston, Alison Sudol, Dan Folger, Ezra Miller, Mads Mikkelsen
Runtime: 2 hrs 23 mins
Rating: PG13 (Some Violence)
Released By: Warner Bros
Opening Day: 14 April 2022
Synopsis: Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore" is the newest adventure in the Wizarding World created by J.K. Rowling and directed by David Yates. Professor Albus Dumbledore (Jude Law) knows the powerful Dark wizard Gellert Grindelwald (Mads Mikkelsen) is moving to seize control of the wizarding world. Unable to stop him alone, he entrusts Magizoologist Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne) to lead an intrepid team of wizards, witches and one brave Muggle baker on a dangerous mission, where they encounter old and new beasts and clash with Grindelwald's growing legion of followers. But with the stakes so high, how long can Dumbledore remain on the sidelines?
This reviewer has a confession to make. He does not remember what exactly happened in the first two movies of the Fantastic Beast film series.
He vaguely remembers a jittery wizard named Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne) going around catching magical creatures in 2016’s Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. Fans of the Harry Potter film series would know that Newt would go on to be the author of a textbook used in the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. It was a somewhat breezy movie to sit through, although there seemed to be nothing particularly fantastic about it.
Then things got convoluted in 2018’s Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald. Newt is still jittery, but the star of the show was Johnny Depp’s Gellert Grindelwald, a dark wizard who seems like some sort of a cult leader. Watching Depp inject his usual quirky (and someone creepy) antics in the character made the movie feel weird. Then there is Jude Law who portrayed the beloved Albus Dumbledore. The second movie of the franchise mentioned that he had a very close (hint: romantic) relationship with Grindelwald when they were young, which made things even weirder. There were too many other side plots that viewers did not care for. This reviewer doesn’t even remember the supporting characters in the poorly reviewed movie.
The filmmakers are back with this third instalment. Like the previous two, it is directed by David Yates (he helmed the last four movies of the eight films in the Harry Potter series) and based on a screenplay by J K Rowling. Just by the movie title alone, it tries to spice up things by getting viewers interested in the secrets that Dumbledore is hiding.
Aware that Grindelwald’s influence and power is spreading, Dumbledore gets Scamander to lead a team of wizards and witches (plus a human who is often the comic relief in the group) to stop the dark wizard from seizing control of the wizarding world. The result is a 142 minute movie that still feels overlong but is a vast improvement from the last movie.
One cannot doubt the perfectly executed computer generated effects of this fantasy film. From the mystical Qilin that can see into one’s soul and as well as the future to the swarm of scorpion like creatures in a dungeon, the creatures are again brought to life on screen. Viewers will watch in awe and be intrigued by the wizarding world. The sets are also impressive. From the grand ballroom where Grindelwald planned an assassination to the majestic Bhutan where an election is planned to take place, these are worthy moments to enjoy on the big screen.
The movie slows down significantly when characters gather to converse, when viewers want more of the magic and wonder that the film is evidently delivering. Instead of overpopulating the story with side plots literally dark cinematography, this third instalment provides a fine balance. A memorable sequence involves the Scamander brothers doing a delightfully funny dance to avoid being attacked by the abovementioned scorpion like creatures.
Mads Mikkelson replaces Depp as Grindelwald, and does an apt job with gravitas and menace, instead of draping the antagonist with theatrics. One character that we’d love more screen time is Ezra Miller’s Credence Barebone, the disturbed and abused wizard that has a connection to the Dumbledore family. It’d had been nice if the actor had more to do with his character. Like Grindelwald, there is potential to bring him back for the supposedly planned fourth and fifth movies in the Fantastic Beasts franchise. We’ll just have to wait whether the movie studio will give the go ahead, considering the muddling reviews and issues taking place behind the scenes (something we’ll leave you to read on the Internet).
(There is enough magic and majesty in this third movie of the Fantastic Beasts franchise, but more can be done to keep viewers engaged throughout)
Review by John Li