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Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore Movie Review: An engaging placeholder film that falls a- Cinema express

Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore Movie Review: An engaging placeholder film that falls a bit short

The adventures of this eclectic group aren’t exactly fascinating, but the individual characters do go through their respective journeys, which makes up for the entertainment quotient

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Published: 08th April 2022

Harry Potter, as we all know, is a once-in-a-generation cultural phenomenon. After the first few years of being entranced by witchcraft and wizardry, it becomes increasingly clear that JK Rowling’s story was, at its essence, a statement against fascism. The Fantastic Beasts series too speaks of the importance of fighting against fascism and the necessity of inclusivity… here though, there is no room for subtlety. In a post-truth world, writers JK Rowling and Steve Kloves understand the importance of making it as obvious as possible and their latest attempt at doing this is The Secrets of Dumbledore.

The film continues from where it left off in Crimes of Grindelwald, albeit with a slight casting change: Gellert Grindelwald is now played by Mads Mikkelsen, not Johnny Depp. The eccentricity of Johnny gets swapped with the sophistication of Mads. Grindelwald, you see, wants to wage a war against the Muggles and have the world inhabited only by his kind. It doesn’t take too much to understand why Grindelwald is placed in 1930s Germany. We also see the makers avoiding all pretense and showing Albus Dumbledore (a brilliant Jude Law) and Grindelwald as star-crossed lovers. With Grindelwald corrupting the system and people with his hate-mongering, a big question arises. Who should go against the machinations of Grindelwald and Co.? The OG Dumbledore’s Army, of course, ft. Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne), Jacob Kowalski (Dan Fogler), Theseus Scamander (Callum Turner), Professor Lally Hicks (Jessica Williams), Yusuf Kama (William Ladylam), and Bunty Broadacre (Victoria Yeates).

Cast: Eddie Redmayne, Jude Law, Mads Mikkelsen, Dan Fogler

Director: David Yates

The adventures of this eclectic group aren’t exactly fascinating, but the individual characters do go through their respective journeys, which makes up for the entertainment quotient. Be it the Indiana Jones-esque sequence featuring Newt and Theseus, the ballroom escape featuring Professor Hicks and Kowalski, or the final switcheroo comedy with a bunch of suitcases, Secrets of Dumbledore has a lot going for it. However, the lack of big action set pieces is a bit of a dampener. For animal lovers, there are plenty of visual treats. Apart from the usual suspects in the form of nifflers and bowtruckles, we now also get new beasts with fascinating powers and deeper connections with the story.

While Secrets of Dumbledore isn’t exactly brilliant, it does feel like an upgrade on the franchise’s previous film, The Crimes of Grindelwald, which suffered from the ‘Middle Film Syndrome’. The franchise has always been planned as a five-film series, and often, in such franchises, the second, third and fourth films feel like they are building up to something large: in the case of this franchise, the final, famous war between Gellert Grindelwald and Albus Dumbledore. Let’s not forget, this franchise is as much about Newt Scamander too, and this is perhaps where The Crimes of Grindelwald missed a trick by not focussing much on its protagonist. This film makes no such mistake though.

With all the pieces of this jigsaw on the table, it is now just a matter of time, two films to be specific, before the much-anticipated final war between Grindelwald and Dumbledore. While the result of that war is well-known to Harry Potter readers, it should still be of interest to see how Newt and his merry band of friends fit into the scheme of things. For those not acquainted with the magical world of Harry Potter, and the even more magical world of Newt Scamander, the third instalment might be a difficult beast to handle, but those who know a Qilin from a Hippogriff will see that this is quite an efficient placeholder film.

Rating:
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