The Secrets of Dumbledore
review by Bobby Blakey
There are few franchises that have had the staying power as that of Harry Potter. When the hit book series was brought to life with the first film Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone in 2001 it instantly became a worldwide phenomenon. After the series came to an end fans thought that was all from the Wizarding World until 2016 with the prequel film Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them and the 2018 sequel Crimes of Grindelwald. After some delay and controversy the next chapter in the series Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore is finally heading home.
Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore follows the story that leads up to the Wizarding World's involvement in World War II and will explore the magical communities in Bhutan, Germany and China in addition to previously established locations including Brazil, the United States and United Kingdom in the 1930s. With Grindelwald's power rapidly growing, Albus Dumbledore entrusts Newt Scamander and his friends on a mission that will lead to a clash with Grindelwald's army, and will lead Dumbledore to ponder how long he will stay on the sidelines in the approaching war.
This latest entry is directed by Harry Potter alum David Yates and stars Eddie Redmayne as Newt Scamander, Jude Law as Albus Dumbledore, Ezra Miller as Credence Barebone, Alison Sudol as Queenie Goldstein, Callum Turner as Theseus Scamander, Dan Fogler as Jacob Kowalski, Jessica Williams as Eulalie Hicks, Poppy Corby-Tuech as Rosier, and Mads Mikkelsen taking over the role from Johnny Depp as Gellert Grindelwald.
I have actually had a decent time with the first two films despite their flaws and unnecessary need to exist. It once again created a fun world for Potter
fans to revisit while doing some fun stuff and connecting to the original series. That being said my love of Johnny Depp had me concerned to how it was going to affect the story with his character being so prominent to the entire story. I am a fan of Mikkelsen so was at least interested in seeing what he did with the role after Depp was unjustly removed. Mikkelsen is fine in the role, but has ditched everything about it in look and personality that Depp created making it feel like a completely different character and it feels out of place. Had he been in the role from the beginning he would have no doubt been fine, but it just didn’t work for me here.
Also gone is Katherine Waterson who took on the role of Tina since the first film and a major player alongside Newt, but this time around is missing completely with the exception of a brief cameo with little to no explanation. This changes the dynamic of the story and actually how Newt acts. This time around he is almost pushed to the side even though he is still front and center. There are plenty of fun magical moments, but the film limps along more than not as it is building towards the big finale that is sadly not all that big.
The film was clearly meant to be yet another filler piece to the story, but with the struggles behind the scenes of casting with the change of Depp, Miller’s recent brushes with the law and Rowling’s public statements it is going to take a lot for this franchise to push forward to the initial five film planned series. I am all in for more as I didn’t hate this film it just felt like it spent all its time to build up to something that never really comes this time around and what magic that was here in the previous films is just not as powerful.
In addition to the film this release offers up bonus content including deleted scenes, and numerous featurettes taking fans behind bringing the latest chapter of the wizarding world to life. Grab your copy of Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore available now on digital and HBO MAX and then on 4K, Blu-ray and DVD on June 28th from Warner Bros Home Entertainment.