The Harry Potter series, or rather, the Wizarding World, has been around for about twenty years or so. The Secrets of Dumbledore is the third installment in the Fantastic Beasts franchise after eight Harry Potter films preceded them. The adventures of magizoologist Newt Scamander have never been more critical, though. The entire magical world and muggle population depend on him.
We pick up with Newt (Eddie Redmayne) as he’s about to discover a Chemin having a baby when he’s rudely interrupted by Credence (Ezra Miller) and his companions who want the offspring for their nefarious purposes. Grindelwald (now played by Mads Mikkelsen) has been busy, and he needs the Chemin for a plan that could make him the leader of the magical world. Newt and a group of witches and wizards are tasked by Albus Dumbledore (Jude Law) to try to stop Grindelwald and his followers.
The film takes place on the brink of WWII and has quite a few indicators of the period, namely Hitler and Nazi Germany. J.K. Rowling and Steve Kloves have infused this third film in the Fantastic Beasts saga with more real-world issues while making the magical world one of peril, making Grindelwald a bigger threat to the world than he’s ever been in the past. Muggles have never been in more danger than they are now. This is also the first film of the Fantastic Beasts trilogy that actually features a satisfying amount of magical creatures.
Along with the cast I’ve already mentioned, the film has some recurring characters returning. The no-mag baker Jacob Kowalski (Dan Fogler) from Queens gets a wand this time around. His love interest, Queeny (Alison Sudol), doesn’t know where her loyalties truly lie. Theseus (Callum Turner), Newt’s brother. and Eulalie “Lally” Hicks (Jessica Williams) both are there to help out where and when they can to save both humanity and wizards alike. This cast is phenomenal and perfect for this film. They never miss a beat despite having to recast Grindelwald this time around.
One of the things that make these Fantastic Beasts films pretty amazing is their world-building and overall production design, as well as the cinematography and costume design. The movies look authentic to the time they take place in. That is owed to David Yates, Colleen Atwood, George Richmond, Stuart Craig, and Neil Lamont. These men and women are owed a debt of gratitude because this film is gorgeous to look at and fits perfectly in this world. I’ve never seen a better-looking Wizarding World film than this one. That’s a good thing.
J.K. Rowling took some criticism from fans and critics alike about the last Fantastic Beasts film. She tried to rectify that with this the third installment in the franchise. The world-building she infuses this film with is pretty amazing — going to various countries such as Germany and Bhutan helps grow the magical world while also connecting it to the muggle world and its problems. She even threw in some political undertones from our world that help ground the film in reality despite its wonderful, magical feel.
Yates, Rowling, and company have redeemed themselves for the lackluster reception of the last film by bringing this franchise back to the place it belongs, a place where fans embrace it as they should, and critics such as myself can enjoy them once again. The look of the film is better than ever with incredible cinematography, production design, and costume design. These crafts departments all deserve a round of applause and maybe Academy Award nominations next year for their stellar work. The cast down from the top — Jude Law, Eddie Redmayne, Mads Mikkelsen, and so many others — give first-rate performances we’ve come to know from the Wizarding World films. The visual effects are astounding to behold. They help make all the magic look like it could be real. This is a step in the right direction for this franchise.
Dan Skip Allen
Sean Boelman/EIC disappointment media