Review: Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore (2022)

Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore (2022)

Directed by: David Yates | 143 minutes | adventure, family | Actors: Mads Mikkelsen, Ezra Miller, Katherine Waterston, Jude Law, Eddie Redmayne, Alison Sudol, Dan Fogler, Callum Turner, Fiona Glascott, Valerie Pachner, Poppy Corby-Tuech, Victoria Yeates, Jessica Williams, Richard Coyle, Oliver Masucci, Hebe Beardsall, Maria Fernanda Candido, William Nadylam, Aleksandr Kuznetsov

JK Rowling, the creator of the wizarding world around Harry Potter, wrote the fictional reference book ‘Fantastic Beasts and Where to find Them’ in 2001, initially to raise money for charity (Comic Relief). She pretended that the magizoologist Newt Scamander had written the book, and there were notes by Harry, Ron and Hermione, the heroes of the hugely popular ‘Harry Potter’ series. ‘Fantastic Beasts’ was readily bought by many Wizarding World fans and proved to be so well received that in 2013, Rowling proudly announced that a film series would be made around Newt Scamander and his mythical creatures, set many decades before the events. in the Potter movies. Initially, there was talk of a trilogy, but Rowling turned out to have so much inspiration that producer Warner Brothers decided to release no fewer than five films.

In the first film, ‘Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them’ (2016), we are introduced to the unworldly Newt (Eddie Redmayne), his wondrous collection of mythical creatures and his friends Jacob (Dan Fogler), Tina (Katherine Waterston) and Queenie (Alison Sudol). Towards the end, the villain is introduced: Gellert Grindelwald. In the second film, subtitled ‘The Crimes of Grindelwald’ (2018), it becomes clear that Grindelwald has nefarious plans for the world, both that of the wizards and other magical creatures and that of the Muggles. It’s up to Newt and young Dumbledore (Jude Law) to stop him. Dumbledore appears to have been Grindelwald’s best friend in the past, so if there’s anyone who could possibly influence him, it’s him. The third film is subtitled ‘The Secrets of Dumbledore’ (2022). A title that triggers enormously. In any case, the character Dumbledore, also the older version from the Potter series, is a fascinating figure. Who is he really? Would we finally get an answer to that in this movie?

One of Dumbledore’s great secrets is revealed right at the beginning of ‘The Secrets of Dumbledore’ and it has to do with his relationship with Grindelwald. That the revered magician is gay is an open secret. This film further elaborates on this, although you don’t have to expect a sparkling passion between the two wizards, because ‘The Secrets of Dumbledore’ is quite hypothermic in its entirety. Incidentally, here we already see the third actor who takes on the role of the nefarious Grindelwald. In the first film it was Colin Farrell (albeit disguised as a different character), in the second film the role was taken over by Johnny Depp. He was already set to appear in part three as well, but his fight divorce from ex-wife Amber Heard, who accused him of assault, and the ensuing accusations of libel by Depp at the tabloid press proved such bad PR for Warner Brothers. that they asked the actor to return the part (he had stated in his contract that he would take his full salary even if the entire film was called off). In ‘The Secrets of Dumbledore’ the versatile Danish actor Mads Mikkelsen has taken on the role of Grindelwald. A boon to the film, because his acting is much more nuanced than Depp usually does. The threat with Mikkelsen is more subcutaneous and hypothermic, behind an insidious facade of charm and wisdom. He doesn’t need all those layers of makeup that Depp hides under to convincingly portray a fascist power-hungry who initially tries to get to power democratically.

Because that’s the situation in ‘The Secrets of Dumbledore’. The film takes us to the Europe, and more specifically the Weimar Germany of the 1930s, where Grindelwald after his release from prison plans to seize absolute power in the magical world (didn’t we see that before?). And let’s just soon be elected a new world leader. Grindelwald already knows exactly how he wants to control the election; by capturing the magical creature Qilin that plays a crucial role in determining the new ruler. But it turns out that another young Qilin has been born and he has taken Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne) under his wing. To stop Grindelwald, Dumbledore has gathered a group of capable mages – plus Muggle friend Jacob Kowalski (Dan Fogler), so enamored with Queenie who has inexplicably gone to the dark side that he is capable of anything. In addition to Newt and Jacob, there are also feisty professor Lally Hicks (Jessica Williams), Newt’s well-read and ever-cool brother Theseus (Callum Turner), the mysterious African magician Yusuf Kama (William Nadylam) and Newt’s bouncy ball from an assistant Bunty (Victoria Yeats). . So no Tina (although she will reappear briefly) and there are more characters from the previous film who have disappeared without a trace, but that aside. As the six try to undermine Grindelwald’s evil plans, we learn more about Dumbledore’s past and his mysterious relationship with the troubled Creedence Barebone (Ezra Miller), Grindelwald’s loyal second.

JK Rowling co-wrote the screenplay with Steve Kloves and is directed by another Potter veteran; David Yates. We have rarely seen Redmayne more eccentric, with his otherworldly look, disheveled hair and slightly oversized pants. One of the film’s highlights is an Indiana Jones-related scene where Newt tries to rescue his brother Theseus from a stuffy, creepy cavern guarded by a petulant Peter Simonischek (the Austrian actor who starred in ‘Tony Erdmann’ from 2016). Alienating and hilarious is the fact that Newt manages to hypnotize the crab-like creatures that are chasing him with a droll dance. ‘The Secrets of Dumbledore’ looks fantastic and is a pleasure to watch thanks to excellent acting, great production design and beautiful special effects, especially in the scenes set in New York. But where ‘The Crimes of Grindelwald’ was top-heavy with developments, action and characters, relatively little spectacular happens in this third film. While certain revelations demand more: the relationship between Dumbledore and Grindelwald could and should have been developed much more strongly, the rise of fascism could have been put more firmly in the picture and more lines towards the world of Harry Potter would have given the film more depth. datum. It doesn’t go much further than meeting a young Minerva McGonagall (Fiona Glascott) and Aberforth Dumbledore (Richard Coyle).

‘The Secrets of Dumbledore’ feels like the calm before a storm that might come in part four and certainly in part five – if there are any. Thanks to the actors, the visual aspect and simply curiosity, the 142 minutes fly by, but the content of this film is one in which it mainly boils under the skin. Given that the events take place in the Interwar period, that is perhaps entirely the intention, but it ensures that things stick significantly less than the fascinating first and the messy second film in the series.

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