Review: Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore

You won’t find many surprises here Fantastic Beasts from the Secrets of Dumbledore. The long-awaited acknowledgment by Albus Dumbledore (Jude Law), future Hogwarts Headmaster, that he once had a homosexual schoolboy affair (Mads Mikelsen is now taking the place of the late Johnny Depp) was not unexpected. J.K. Rowling, Potterworld’s creator, gay-conned Dumbledore back in 2007 for an approving audience on a book tour. She said, “I would have told it earlier if I had known that it would make your so happy.”

The gay thing isn’t a big secret. It will only be public in China where it was demanded by the government and given cuts. This is the third. Amazing BeastsThere is unfortunately an excess of plot and characters in the movie. Loyal fans will already be familiar with Dumbledore and Newt Scamander—the magical-creatures keeper played by Eddie Redmayne—and maybe Jacob Kowalski (Dan Fogler), the lovable Muggle baker who has blundered into Rowling’s wild world of wizards and witches. How many casual viewers are there, just four years later? Amazing Beasts film, will clearly remember Jacob’s love jones for half-blood sorceress Queenie Goldstein (Alison Sudol); or Queenie’s sister Tina (Katherine Waterston), for whom Newt pines; or maybe the meaning of the term Obscurus (think Credence Barebone—played by Ezra Miller again, the darkly troubled young wizard who is actually, as we learn here, an unloved member of a prominent magical family).

Just the prospect of chasing around after all these characters is taxing in advance, especially since so many of them are scurrying very far afield, through the magical precincts of Paris, Berlin, New York, and—what the hey—Bhutan. What are they looking for? Albus is asking them to find Grindelwald. He’s planning to take over an election in order to choose a supreme wizard. Then, he will go all Nazi (1927), and put his will on the Muggle and magical worlds. Albus could take over this task, but Grindelwald and he made a blood pact when they were young that prohibits them ever from fighting. Albus sends Newt to his brother, Theus, a Ministry of Magic agent (Callum Turner). Emma); the wizard Yusuf Kama (William Nadylam), who’s been embedded in Grindelwald’s dastardly circle; the baker Kowalski; and the elegant professor and witch Lally Hicks (Jessica Williams, bringing a lively jolt of sass to the proceedings) to bring the Grindelwald problem to an end. The plot is pretty much complete.

This film stands out because of its new levels of excellent CGI. The artistry is so intricate and seamless that one can’t help but think back to the past when computer imagery was a form of magic. Some of the scenes are reminiscent of the Harry Potter films: a shot from the top of the locomotive moving through the snowy landscape, an impressive view of Hogwarts perched on its craggy hill, and some wonderful beasts like Qilin who can see into the future as well as into someone’s mind.

It’s the action scenes, though, that really dazzle—the chases through highly complex environments, often through swarms of swirling detritus, are marvels of painstaking digital animation, as are many passing effects, like the brief reflection of a character’s face in a small pool of blood.

Then there are Colleen Atwood’s knockout costumes—miracles of high-end drape and texture that are a wonder from beginning to end of the picture.

Who really has the need for this film? This is a question we’ve been asking since before the movie. The BeastSix years ago Rowling lobbied for the franchise to be created. This film brings it back. Warner Bros. has taken in a lot of money during the 10 year production of eight films. Harry PotterFilms, it was impossible for the studio to turn down the author of the book on which the films were based if she wanted to continue her Hollywood adventures. Rowling penned the scripts for Rowling’s first two films. Amazing BeastsThe film was made by her, but critics found it lacking. PotterSteve Kloves (veteran) was called in to help with the editing. However, it has been a problem ever since. The story—which is projected to produce two more installments—still feels like a faint echo of the Potter series, with characters that are considerably less charming and a narrative that’s faint of heart and not terribly interesting. There are also The SecretsThis marks the halfway point in the series. It naturally doesn’t end. Another disappointment.