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Old 04-06-2022, 12:57 AM
masterofmystery masterofmystery is offline
Post Film Review: 'Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore' (with spoilers)

It’s been awhile since our last outing to the Wizard World and a lot has changed. We have a new Gellert Grindelwald for a start. Mads Mikkelsen steps into the role of the evil wizard, plotting to once again over throw the Wizarding World and push through his agenda for the greater good. Jude Law’s Albus Dumbledore, still bound by the blood pact that he and Grindelwald made, is unable to move directly against him, so he entrusts an unlikely group of witches, wizards and a muggle to execute his secretive plan.

Everyone’s favorite (and only) magizoologist, Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne), once again comes to the forefront as Dumbledore’s confidant, spearheading the plan of which he knows very little about, but trusts completely (sound familiar?). Alongside him, and the total envy of everyone in the audience, we have Jacob Kowalski (portrayed by the amazing Dan Fogler) who also gets his very own wand, plus a trip to Hogwarts.

Beasts alumni Theseus Scamander (Callum Turner) and Yusuf Kama (William Nadylam) are joined by Eulalie ‘Lally’ Hicks (Jessica Williams), who brings a refreshing energy as a highly skilled charms professor, much to the delight and slightly fan-boy reaction of Newt when he finally meets her. The often forgotten and overlooked, but always dependable assistant to Newt, Bunty (Victoria Yeates), is there to round out Dumbledore’s troupe, and this takes us to their counterparts. Credence Barebone (Ezra Miller) returns and is angry and brooding as ever, having learned that he is in fact a Dumbledore and was abandoned by his family at birth. Grindelwald has convinced him to seek revenge and uses newly acquired Queenie Goldstein (Alison Sudol) to monitor Credence and keep an eye on his mood and feelings, knowing that something dark lurks inside of him.

So where we do we find ourselves? Newt Scamander is on a journey once again. We join him in a vast jungle where he comes across a creature, a qilin, who gives birth to a baby. The tender moment is quickly interrupted when Credence shows up at the order of Grindelwald and kills the Qilin mother, taking the baby from the arms of Newt whom he has knocked out with a spell. It becomes apparent that the Qilin is key to Grindelwald’s plan as it has the rare ability to sense when someone is pure of heart (the old method they used to use when deciding on the leader of the International Confederation of Wizards).

After Credence and his cohort departs, we learn that the Qilin in fact gave birth to twins, and so Newt is thrown a fantastical beasty lifeline. He rescues the remaining orphan before being whisked away in a balloon-like fashion by a wyvern, and here we head into the title card “Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore.”

Set against a political backdrop, Fantastic Beasts 3 has echoes of its real world, muggle timeline (the rise of fascism), and you very much get a sense of that throughout. Grindelwald flips the whole narrative that’s been against him, going from wanted criminal for crimes against the muggle world to candidate for leader of the International Confederation of Wizards. Albus Dumbledore is ever-present in this film and, as the title suggests, we do get to learn the secrets of the family, including that of estranged brother Aberforth (Richard Coyle), but more on that later.

After Albus demonstrates the power of the blood pact, to the point where we see him nearly get killed by it, the plan is set in motion with each of the chosen witches and wizards, and muggle, heading their separate ways. The ultimate goal is to confuse the future, which Gellert Grindelwald can see into, therefore thwarting his plan to assume total control.

Dumbledore has one initial attempt through Newt to try to convince Anton Vogel, the Supreme Mugwump of the International Confederation of Wizards to “do the right thing” but this does not play with him at all, and he retorts that once again Dumbledore is nowhere to be seen, and so he puts through the motion that Grindelwald is cleared of all charges against him. What follows is an eruption of joy on the streets of Germany as people celebrate, and Grindelwald is heralded as a hero, but luckily Dumbledore has that plan B up his sleeve.

So where does Credence fit into this, might you ask? He seemed integral at the end of the last film, and that is, and isn’t, the case here. As mentioned previously, Queenie is tasked with keeping an eye on Credence, which he challenges her about. You can see the concern in her eyes, and she reveals to him that she doesn’t have to relay everything she sees to Grindelwald. There is torment within Credence. He is lost. He knows he doesn’t belong, but he has established a connection with someone. There is a mirror in his room, and messages frequently appear and disappear.

We were hoping there would be a flashback regarding Credence's origin, but there was no room in this tightly edited film. The filmmakers have taken onboard all the criticism of the previous installment and, as a result, we are left with the most carefully edited and paced film possibly of any of the Wizarding World installments. There is no room for any fat, and that is both a good and bad thing, but as a movie watching experience, probably for the better.

Much of the film is filled with fun sequences, we see possibly the most skilled witch to ever grace our screens in Professor Lally Hicks, who is just a joy to watch whenever she’s in frame. She takes Jacob under her reliable wing, though after being framed for attempted assassination you wouldn’t think he’d have even needed it, but these make for some of the best moments in the film. Jacob’s longing for Queenie shines through, and as the pair come across each other on several occasions, you can’t help but root for them every single moment.

Queenie struggles through tears to shut Jacob out, but before long she can’t hold herself back any longer. She knows truly what side she is on, the side of love. The next few memorable sequences involve a CG-heavy duel between Dumbledore and Credence, and here we see just how powerful Dumbledore is. The type of magic on display is no match. Credence didn’t stand a chance, and Dumbledore takes pity and apologizes for what happened to Credence. Credence returns to Grindelwald crestfallen, and even more lost than ever. Grindelwald knew he would fail, but continues to give him another chance, although his patience grows thin again once he discovers that there was a twin qilin.

This severely impacts the chance of his plan to be picked as the leader, having killed and reanimated the original baby qilin, so that it would bow to him when the time comes. Nevertheless, he commits to the plan, which takes us to Bhutan, in Asia, where the election ceremony is taking place.

Having each been handed a replica of Newt’s briefcase in the Room of Requirement at Hogwarts, Dumbledore's First Army head off to Bhutan the finale sets up what is essentially a chase sequence that culminates with Grindelwald presenting his sham election to the gathered dignitaries of the Wizarding World.

Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore is a fun third instalment to the franchise that ticks all the boxes of what you would want from a Beasts film. It clocks in at a neat two hours and 23 minutes, and is a very easy, family friendly watch, despite the political backdrop.

It goes a long way to try and make up for the criticism of the previous film and delivers a story that ties up any potential loose ends, but at the same time leaves the door open for a finale. We really hope they get to the finale, and we really hope we can see a tonal shift in the same way that we saw the shift from light to dark from “Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets” to “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.”

With the famous final duel still to come, and sadly the possible demise of Credence seemingly still to come, we could be in for some dark times, but we gladly welcome it!
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Old 04-18-2022, 10:04 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Great review/plot summary. I didn't find this one to be tightly-paced, and thought the overall plot was rather predictable, but I did love the new creatures they showcased, the Queenie-Jacob bits, and all the tender Dumbledore moments. I especially loved the Seven Scamanders chase through Bhutan. Will Credence Clearwater Dumbledore and Daddy Aberforth Dumbledore be back? Time will tell, but I hope yes, because I thought this was slated to be a five-part film franchise. Also?? Mads Mikkelsen is great casting for Grindelwald. We should have had him from the start. My only complaint is that I want to see. more. Dumbledore. Jude Law is perfect as him.
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