The Fantastic Beasts series has been slow to pick up the pace. After a lackluster debut with Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find them, which was an enjoyable movie but nothing groundbreaking, followed by The Crimes of Grindelwald (review here), which was thoroughly enjoyable but flawed in many ways, we now have an absolute winner in the form of the third installment, The Secrets of Dumbledore. It’s only just been released, and not yet released in some countries, so expect no spoilers in this review.
A couple of years after the events in Paris that took place in The Crimes of Grindelwald, we find an intrepid team of — in many cases slightly traumatized — heroes, trying to put a final stop to the rise and warmongering plans of Gellert Grindelwald. The role has switched from Johnny Depp to Mads Mikkelsen, just one of the many controversies surrounding this release. That said, while I personally felt that Depp made an excellent Grindelwald, Mikkelsen’s much more serious take on the role makes Grindelwald all that more menacing and threatening a villain.
The villains are definitely what make this movie so great. Several of Grindelwald’s henchpeople have obvious “crazy villain” vibes going on. Several are as clever, conniving and well-spoken as Grindelwald himself. They’re in places of power, they’re your neighbor, it’s a situation that draws very near the politics of the late 1930s and it is very well brought. It gives that little extra for those who are looking for a more serious note, but it’s still performed in a way that it’s not a total downer for those who are there for another installment in the Harry Potterverse and just want to see cool characters and creatures.
It’s not just Mikkelsen’s performance that stands out, there is literally not a single actor who is doing a bad job here. A special shout-out to Jessica Williams who plays Eulalie “Lally” Hicks, an Ilvermorny professor who joins our team of heroes, who is such an amazing character that I really hope we’ll get to see more of her in the future!
The creatures do not disappoint. There are, of course, fan favorite and staples Pickett the Bowtruckle and Teddy the Niffler (who has finally been named). But also creatures from the book we had never seen on screen before and a new creature altogether, the Qilin. (No spoiler, as it’s all over the new merchandise, which will absolutely not disappoint for it is as cool as it is stinking cute. They are brought to you in such a way that they are really a natural part of the universe.)
The costumes are back to being a little more era-appropriate, and while they aren’t historically accurate for the most part, they still feel like they are, which definitely contributes to the overal atmosphere of the film.
Another strong suit is the twist and turns the plot takes. Over the years between the past installments and The Secrets of Dumbledore, fans have been full of all sorts of theories and almost none have proven to be correct. I feel that they solved a lot of plot issues from the previous movies, and answered a lot of questions in ways that are very satisfactory.
Due to the overwhelming amount of drama involving this movie series, it has been stated by Warner Brothers that if this one doesn’t do well, it’ll be the end of the series. Considering how good The Secrets of Dumbledore is, that would be a right shame, and although the story is told in a way that it wouldn’t be a disappointing ending to the series, I feel there are still a lot of tales to be told when it comes to the Fantastic Beasts franchise.
Basically, if you love action-packed, at times funny, at times sad, fantasy movies full of cool characters, excellent costumes and magical creatures, this is one you shouldn’t miss out on.
If this movie flops, it won’t be because it’s a bad film at all (because it’s amazing), but because people have turned their back on the Wizarding World franchise or simply don’t want to return to the cinema yet because of today’s world. It most certainly will not be a quality issue.