Movie Review: Fantastic Beasts 3: Secrets of Dumbledore

Listening to the critics and the reports about how a movie isn’t doing well shouldn’t mean much. People should be able to walk into a movie without expecting too much, especially since skewing one’s opinion is just about as bad as telling a person what the story is all about. But after watching the movie (spoilers coming) it’s not too hard to agree with the critics and various other individuals this time. Honestly, walking into this movie hoping for one thing and finding that the idea that might have been pushed is squashed so easily that it could leave a lot of fans feeling flat for a good portion of the movie. There’s also the idea of Mads Mikkelsen being a superior replacement for Johnny Depp as Grindelwald, and to be honest, this is a rather divisive statement that a lot of people have already voiced their support for, while others have kept fairly quiet as they believe that Depp should have never been replaced. That’s another story entirely, however, and not one that I’ll be entertaining in this article. 

But what is up for grabs and easy to debate about is whether or not this will be like The Empire Strikes Back, meaning initially it’s going to be thought of as less than useful but will end up being loved in the years to come, or if it’s going to be remembered as the least impressive entry in the Harry Potter universe. Sadly, it’s not hard to see why since there are plenty of moments in the movie that felt as though they were built up in a manner that made it feel as though things were about to erupt in a way that would be impressive as hell, only to watch them fade and fizzle out when nothing really develops from them. 

Whoever was thinking that Credence was an actual Dumbledore and that it wasn’t a trick by Grindelwald, had it right on the head since Credence did return, but he became an even more detestable character to start with when he and several others were seen to be attacking Newt Scamander while killing a deer-like creature known as a Qilin, which is known to have precognitive abilities. When Grindelwald’s followers kidnap the young Qilin after killing the mother, they also end up chasing Newt through a forest, incapacitating him so that they can make their getaway. What Newt finds however is that the mother had twins, and thus there is one Qilin that he takes with him as one of his many creatures makes its way from the interdimensional space within his briefcase to spirit him, and the case, to safety. Like it or not, this is one of the most exciting moments in the movie, though there are several other moments that do try very hard to be just as impressive. From Jacob being recruited into the effort to defeat Grindelwald to Theseus and Newt having to escape a magical German prison, the movie definitely pushes the idea that something great is about to happen, only to remain annoyingly anticlimactic as Dumbledore, who can’t move openly against Grindelwald, remains in the background giving hints and tips when such things are needed.

Mads Mikkelsen is a great actor, and this part could have been his without fault, but one thing that came to mind during the movie is that the feeling of switching characters in mid-stride is hardly ever a good idea unless there’s a solid reason why it should be happening. The fact that no one addressed Grindelwald’s new appearance feels like kind of an insult to Depp, and a disservice to Mikkelsen as the movie’s stride tripped and stumbled despite the great action. Then came the aforementioned anticlimactic moments in which the action was able to ramp up in a pleasing manner, but was halted as surely as if one had run themselves into a wall. Had this transitioned into useful exposition every time, it would have felt forgivable. But the fact is that the pacing of the movie is tough to deal with, as there’s little to no real buffer between the action and exposition that allows the story to move forward. There’s just…dead space. 

The casting works, mostly, and the overall story feels like a great idea, but at the same time, there wasn’t enough of an explanation for Grindelwald’s appearance, which could have been an interesting retcon that might not have taken more than a few minutes at best. Plus, whoever wrote the script, no disrespect, but they either need to work on their pacing or perhaps they’re simply building this movie up for another one. That does feel like what might be coming, as the fans could finally see the wizarding war that they’ve been waiting for and the final confrontation between Dumbledore and Grindelwald, in which Albus will end up with the Elder wand finally. But overall, this movie was kind of a giant ‘meh’ with a few interesting points scattered throughout. 

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