“Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore” is the next movie in the JK Rowling “Wizarding World”. But based on the crammed and jammed details of People, Places and Beasts that this movie covers, it begins to fall into the “Bewildering World”. It is mishmash of Wizard-level ‘Big Ideas’ that come across as half-baked content. The visually stunning effects are fun, but the long slog of run time make you feel like Muggle forced to take the 5th year O.W.L.S test. I mean, it’s a struggle to keep up…
Newt Scamander (played by Eddie Redmayne) searches for wild magical animals. He is a wizard who studies all the different types, and now he has found a very rare Qilin. This Beast has a baby, and before Newt can take care of it, some bad guys take and steal it from Newt. Before the mother Qilin dies, Newt finds a newborn twin of a stolen animal. The bad guys have taken the newly-born baby to their leader. It is Gellert Grindelwald (played Mads Mikkelsen).
Gellert is a bad Wizard, and wanted by the Authorities. But there is a Wizard election coming up, and Gellert has a plan to become involved in the outcome. The baby Qilin plays a part, and so does Gellert’s crew. These include Credence Barebone (played by Ezra Miller) – who is learned to be part of a famous wizarding family. It also includes Queenie Goldstein (played by Alison Sudol), who is a past love interest to a non-magical baker from the United States.
Jacob Kowalski (played by Dan Fogler) is the ‘No-Maj’ bkaer who had some adventures with Newt and some other wizards and witches in the past. Jacob gets paid a visit by a new stranger, named Professor Lally Hicks (played by Jessica Williams). She is an elegant and refined teacher at a wizarding school. Lally needs Jacob on new mission, based on the requirements of one Albus Dumbledore (played by Jude Law).
He is a powerful wizard who is the opposite of Gellert Grindelwald. When both were young man, they had a loving relationship. That led both of them to create a Blood Oath that either one would never rise up to stop the other. That is why Albus is created a somewhat makeshift crew to take down Gellert.
Other people involved with the secret mission for Albus is Bunty Broadacre (played by Victoria Yeates). She is Newt’s longtime assistance (and has an unrequited crusch on Mr. Scamander). There is also Theseus Scamander (played by Callum Turner) who is Newt’s brother, and an important guy in the British Wizarding world. There is one other fellow, who is person with a long-time grudge against Gellert Grindelwald. This is the French wizard Yusuf Kama (played by William Nadylam).
Albus Dumbledore knows that Gellart Grindelwald has visions of the future, and he can tell if someone is plotting against him. Albus plans to use this foreknowledge ability to trick Gellart by not expaining anything in detail of all of his crew of ‘agents’. There are parts and pieces that Albus will tell people, but nothing like an overall plan. Newt, Theseus, Bundy, Jacob, Lally, Yusef — they will all take part in what ever larger plan that Albus is cooking up. Oh, even the brother of Albus will play a role – Aberforth Dumbledore (Richard Coyle). It’s one big happy, yet ignorant, family.
Various teams go together, or by themselves, on different parts of the missions. Yusef has to infiltrate the Gellert ‘bad guy clan’. He is there to keep an eye on Credence Barebone (who turned out to be part of the Dumbledore family). He is also in contact with Queenie. She is growing more concerned about the vile hatred that is running deep in the Grindelwald organization. Newt and Theseus, along with Jacob and Lally, go to Berlin. There is meeting of the head wizards prior to picking out a new leader. Lally is sent off on a different task, to get duplicates made of Newt’s magical suitcase.
Things go poorly, as would be expected — because none of them know anything about the overall plan. They meet up with Albus Dumbledore at Hogwart’s school, because — it’s cool place to be as a teacher. Everyone is completely discouraged and think they have to give up. But there one more adventure over in Bhutan. Remember the Qilin from before? (Yeah, this goes around in some circular plots).
The baby animal will be used to help select the next Grand Wizard for the Wizarding World. If it bows down to Gellart Grindelwald, he will use the Wizarding power to purge out anyone who does not share his views. He will have the power to bring Wizard War down on the hapless humans. But what is this little decision-making Beast decides that somebody else is worthy?
“Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore” is not a poorly-made movie. But it is also a movie that does not have a reasonable run time with a cohesive plot structure. For all the wonder of the special effects ‘wand battles’ and ‘port-key transportations’, there is a lack of wonder in the story being told. The wonderful highly-talented actors, they mostly have a weak story to follow. Many of them have awful ‘exposition dumps’ that want to summarize everything from prior movies in 30 seconds or less.
Individually – Jude Law is insanely good as Albus, Eddie Redmayne is a rock-solid Newt. But Dan Fogler again brings a special joy to Jacob, the ‘No-Maj’ baker. Mads Mikkelsen is really solid playing Gellart Grindelwald. (This is role that he took over from he previous movies when it was played by Johnny Depp). The set design and costumes are very impressive. But the lack of any cohesive story fails the movie.
“Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore” delve deeper into the special powers of Albus Dumbledore. He is a Wizard so powerful that he can make Johnny Depp disappear!
Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore
Directed by: David Yates
Screenplay by: J. K. Rowling, Steve Kloves
Based on: screenplay by J. K. Rowling
Starring: Eddie Redmayne, Jude Law, Ezra Miller, Dan Fogler, Alison Sudol, Callum Turner, Jessica Williams, Mads Mikkelsen
Music by: James Newton Howard
Distributed by: Warner Bros. Pictures
Release date: April 15 2022
Length: 142 minutes
MPAA rating: PG-13 for some fantasy action/violence.
Genre: Fantasy Action