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Review: ‘Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore’ is a Magical Return to Form for the Wizarding World Franchise

April 5, 2022Ben MK

Few movies have endeared themselves to the hearts of moviegoers as much as the Harry Potter films. And with the Fantastic Beasts series, director David Yates has set out to recapture that magic, expanding the mythos of the beloved franchise by weaving a tale of good versus evil set several decades before the Boy Who Lived was ever even born. Now, with Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore, Yates is returning to the Wizarding World. But does this third installment in the prequel series manage to avoid the dreaded "threequel" curse — or has the magic of the franchise finally worn off?

Picking up shortly after the climactic events and dramatic revelations of 2018's Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald, the story finds Professor Albus Dumbledore (Jude Law) at a crossroads. With the misguided and powerful wizard Gellert Grindelwald (Mads Mikkelsen, taking over the role from Johnny Depp) having narrowly escaped apprehension by the Ministry of Magic and amassing a loyal and ever-growing group of followers, Dumbledore knows that it's only a matter of time before his former friend and partner puts his dastardly plans into action by striking out against Muggles around the globe. However, with the unbreakable blood pact between the two men still firmly in place, Dumbledore also realizes that there's nothing he himself can directly do to stop Grindelwald, forcing him to instead take an alternative approach in attempting to avert an all-out conflict between the planet's non-magical population and their wizarding counterparts.

Enlisting the aid of his colleague, Magizoologist Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne), Dumbledore sets out to defeat Grindelwald by assembling a small but trustworthy group of allies to help him execute a dangerous and bold plan. Still, with the enemy's ability to foresee the future, will it even be possible to catch Grindelwald by surprise? Either way, Newt, his assistant Bunty (Victoria Yeates) and brother Theseus (Callum Turner), baker Jacob Kowalski (Dan Fogler) and magic arts teacher Eulalie Hicks (Jessica Williams) will need to put all their faith in Hogwarts' stalwart leader if they're to prevent the catastrophe to come. The wildcard in all of this, however, remains Creedence Barebone (Ezra Miller), a conflicted and tortured soul whose overwhelming desire for vengeance and belonging threatens to destroy them all. Will Creedence finally be reunited with the family that abandoned him so many years ago? And will Jacob be reunited with the love of his life, Queenie Goldstein (Alison Sudol), who abandoned both him and her sister, Tina (Katherine Waterston), when she betrayed them to join Grindelwald's ranks?

The answer might not come as a shock to longtime Fantastic Beasts fans, who have come to know these characters well over the course of the last two movies. Nonetheless, the journey that viewers will embark on to arrive at the film's ultimate destination still proves quite enthralling indeed, with Yates and screenwriters J.K. Rowling and Steve Kloves delivering some of the most exciting set-pieces and sequences the series has seen thus far. From an early scene that sees Newt trying to prevent Creedence from getting his hands on a newborn creature which will play a pivotal role later on in the film, to a scene where Newt must resort to some unorthodox tactics in order to rescue Theseus from a subterranean prison infested with deadly vermin, there's certainly no shortage of crowd-pleasing moments. Yet, despite that fact, one can't help but feel like there's something vital missing.

Whether it's Tina's conspicuous absence from the majority of the movie or the lack of explanation given for Grindelwald's on-screen transformation, audiences might be left wondering when it comes to some of the film's key elements. For the most part, though, The Secrets of Dumbledore does a commendable job putting a neat and tidy bow on this chapter of the Wizarding World franchise. The only mystery left unsolved is where the series goes from here — though there's a high probability that not even Grindelwald knows the answer to that one.

Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore releases April 15th, 2022 from Warner Bros. Pictures. The film has an MPAA rating of Rated PG-13 for some fantasy action/violence. Its runtime is 2 hrs. 22 min.

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