Movie review: Effects keep new 'Fantastic Beasts' installment afloat

Fred Hawson

Posted at Apr 19 2022 09:16 AM | Updated as of Apr 19 2022 09:19 AM

A scene from 'Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore.' Handout 
A scene from 'Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore.' Handout 

This sequel opens with a scene where Albus Dumbledore (Jude Law) and Gellert Grindelwald (Mads Mikkelsen taking over from Johnny Depp) met in a restaurant. In their intimate conversation, Dumbledore told Grindelwald, "I was in love with you." This scene essentially confirmed and laid down as canon that Albus Dumbledore was indeed gay, something author J.K. Rowling already revealed back in 2007. I guess this was the biggest secret in the title.

The central story of this third installment of the Fantastic Beasts franchise was Albus Dumbledore trying to prevent Grindelwald from being elected as the Supreme Wizard. This focus on political maneuverings was not too interesting for me, even boring to put it bluntly. If you did not watch any of the previous two films, you will not understand this film at all. However, since this movie is being shown during a heated presidential election period, you will see metaphors about candidates as you interpret them. 

Magizoologist Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne), his brother and auror Theseus (Callum Turner), his No-Maj friend baker Jacob Kowalski (Dan Fogler) and Ilvermorny Charms professor Lally Hicks (Jessica Williams) were basically relegated as side characters. Newt and Theseus' jailbreak scene may have been funny at first, but simply took too long. Goldstein sisters Queenie (Alison Sudol) and Tina (Katherine Waterston) were barely there at all.

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But since this is "Fantastic Beasts," there had to be one in there playing an important role in the story. Here it was a rare deer-like Chinese creature called a Qilin. In the wizarding world, a Qilin was used in the election process because it can see who among the candidates was pure of soul and would kneel and bow in front of him. Grindelwald's plot was to kill the baby Qilin and reanimate it by black magic in order for it to choose him to win the election.

At 142 minutes, the film was too long for a plot confused by multiple extra subplots, like those about Aberforth Dumbledore (Richard Coyle) and Credence Barebone (Ezra Miller). Like the previous installments, it was the special effects that kept the movie afloat, except those parts where Grindelwald's nameless minions were easy cannon fodder. Mikkelsen matched Law's charisma as his nemesis, but I believe Johnny Depp could still have done Grindelwald better. 

This review was originally published in the author's blog, "Fred Said."