In 2016, there was something welcoming and old-fashioned about it Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Themthe brilliant first part of JK Rowlings Harry Potter spinoff book series. In the wake of an ugly US election, the franchise’s lead character Newt Scamander (the always shy and endearingly bumbling Eddie Redmayne) exuded a much-needed compassion and humanity as a perceptive, bellowing ’20s magizoologist devoted to the rare, unfair, feared and misunderstood creatures.
No one could have predicted where this charming offshoot would go in search of common ground between worlds, species and ideologies, but 2018’s sequel The Grindelwald’s crimes unfortunately not in the right direction. The sequel was a handsome but muddled mess and required a lot of homework that even Hermione Granger wouldn’t enjoy doing.
Another four years after this more than two-hour headache comes the even longer one The Secrets of Dumbledore, which arrives with even more luggage than its predecessors. Between Rowling’s inexplicably persistent transphobia on social media and Johnny Depp’s very public legal battles with ex-wife Amber Heard involving domestic violence and other claims, it seems almost impossible for viewers to delve into another carefully crafted wizarding world without encountering Muggle- creators intervene.
It’s surprisingly easy to accept Mads Mikkelsen instead of Depp As the dark wizard Gellert Grindelwald, it serves more as a testament to the embarrassingly inconsequential nature of the franchise. Again directed by David Yates, leader of the final four Harry Potter movies and everything Fantastic Beasts Entry, the action of the whole saga feels so frivolous that it hardly matters who plays one of its most important characters.
Mikkelsen makes decent use of his oddly cool facial gestures and touch of darkness as Grindelwald, offering a dynamic alternative to Depp’s stone facade. in the secrets, viewers get even more backstory on events teased by its predecessors, including the romantic nature of the relationship between Albus Dumbledore (Jude Law) and Grindelwald. After making an anti-Muggle blood pact “for the greater good,” a remorseful Dumbledore changes his mind, declaring to Grindelwald, “I was in love with you.” But like many other queer readings or revisions, Rowling has coyly teased about it potter-verse, the line marks another allusion that she and co-writer Steve Kloves made frustratingly refuse to fully explore, much less actively acknowledgealthough there’s plenty of room for romantic love elsewhere in the franchise.
Despite his absence from the film titles, the main character is still Scamander, whose first task is to guide a graceful, fawn-like creature named Qilin through childbirth. In one of the film’s rare emotional moments, dark wizards intervene during childbirth, while elsewhere Professor Eulalie Hicks (The Secrets of Dumbledore MVP Jessica Williams) tries to rescue lost baker Jacob Kowalski (Dan Fogler) from his misery on a secret quest after the Muggle was abandoned by his platinum blonde lover Queenie Goldstein (delightfully played by Alison Sudol). Grindelwald’s crimes.
Also in the mix are the dark, vengeful Credence Barebone (Ezra Miller); a gloomy Dumbledore who was rumored to have been abandoned by Albus’ brother Aberforth (Richard Coyle); Newt’s brother Theseus (Callum Turner); young Minerva McGonagall (Fiona Glascott); and a labyrinthine assortment of minor characters who need their own appendage to stay straight.
The most confusing part The Secrets of Dumbledore how superfluous each of their ideas feels in relation to each other. There are countless world-spanning international characters, worlds within worlds, and constantly competing historical, political, and mythological references, but they all fizzle out because their ill-considered bets never seem to be fully realized. While Credence’s journey is particularly fascinating, it rarely feels like part of a cohesive whole. Rowling the screenwriter feels overly indebted to Rowling the writer, as her work here highlights her talents as a plotter and world builder, but also her relative inexperience with the demands of more streamlined, cinematic storytelling.
Despite the attractive orchestration by Yates, the impeccable menswear-era attire by costume designer Colleen Atwood, and the magical production design by Stuart Craig and Neil Lamont, the magic-centric film series never quite finds the enchanted spark that defined the film Harry Potter Franchise so badly needed. In comparison, the overall story is told in the Fantastic Beasts Movies feels more like an overlong book – one with missing chapters. The familiar grounds of Hogwarts and the pixie dust of composer John Williams’ icon Harry Potter subject make us only wish we saw this series of films instead of this humorless drudgery.
What is the saddest The Secrets of Dumbledore is the meaning of what it actually has to say. It’s not just a tale of good versus evil, but a tale of embracing change and progress, accepting blame for wrongdoing, learning from mistakes, and growing as a good citizen of the world in a mad era of ambiguity on both sides. Based on the headlines they’ve generated in the four years since the last film, some of its creators might want to explore these ideas a little more closely in their real lives. It’s clear on screen that they’ve been too busy digging through a mountain of their own mythology to extract the more relevant lessons beneath.
https://www.avclub.com/secrets-of-dumbledore-review-fantastic-beasts-j-k-rowli-1848746608 The Secrets of Dumbledore Slog