Unpacking ‘Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore’

If you’re anything like me, you were probably a huge Harry Potter fan growing up. You saw all the movies, read all (or in my case most) of the books, and were eager to find out which House you would be in if you went to Hogwarts. After the release of the final film, it was exciting to hear about the newest developments of the “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” movie. Sadly, as we move further from the days of the peak of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, our perspective of the magic begins to change. Over the past few years, many Harry Potter fans have been disheartened to see J.K. Rowling’s controversial statements about the trans community. Additionally, people eager to follow the new prequel franchise have seen consistent controversy with casting in the franchise. Examples of these controversies include the decision to fire Johnny Depp from his role as Gellert Grindelwald and replace him with Mads Mikkelsen as well as the recent press regarding Ezra Miller’s (the actor playing Credence Barebone/ Aurelius Dumbledore) image in the public eye after recent arrests in Hawaii. After the mixed reviews of “Crimes of Grindelwald,” it is hard to imagine what to expect going into the newest installment of the franchise. 

“Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore” picks up five years after the events of “Crimes of Grindelwald.” It follows Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne), a magizoologist recruited by Albus Dumbledore (Jude Law) to stop Gellert Grindelwald’s (Mads Mikkelsen) plot to take over the wizarding world, which would lead to disastrous results for both magic and non-magic beings. Newt teams up with his brother Theseus (Callum Turner), Jacob Kowalski (Dan Fogler) Newt’s non-magical friend he met on his first adventure in the United States, Lally Hicks (Jessica Williams) a magic professor at Ilvermorny, Yusuf Kama (William Nadylam) a French wizard of notable background, and Bunty Broadacre (Victoria Yeates) Newt’s indispensable assistant. Together, they must protect a Qilin, a magical creature that can see into a person’s soul and will be used to determine the results of the Wizarding World election. They also fight against Grindelwald’s dastardly plot to control the results of the election.

Courtesy of Warner Bros.

While many Harry Potter fans were likely excited to see this new spin-off into the famous Wizarding World, “The Secrets of Dumbledore” was certainly facing an uphill battle after mixed reviews for “Crimes of Grindelwald,” transphobic statements by J.K. Rowling, the firing of Johnny Depp and Ezra Miller’s ongoing public image after two assault charges in Hawaii. With all the negative publicity surrounding this movie, it wouldn’t be a surprise to enter “The Secrets of Dumbledore” with low expectations. While not a perfect movie, “The Secrets of Dumbledore” manages to still be a fun ride in spite of the surrounding real world controversies. Any fan of the series will be fired up to see a strong return to the magical action of the Wizarding World with some thrilling sequences that will keep you on the edge of your seat.

Despite the mixed reviews of the “Fantastic Beasts” franchise, there has been general praise regarding Eddie Redmayne and Dan Fogler in their roles as Newt Scamander and Jacob Kowalski. In this movie, they yet again pull off memorable performances as the lovable magizoologist and the no-mag with a heart of gold. Another stand out performance is Jude Law with his interpretation of Young Dumbledore. After a cameo as Professor Lally Hicks in “Crimes of Grindelwald,” Jessica Williams shines in her expanded role. While it was a polarizing decision to fire Johnny Depp from his role as Gellert Grindelwald, Mads Mikkelsen does a fantastic job as the new interpretation of the villain and there is no doubt concerning his abilities to continue the role for the remainder of the franchise (should it continue). Mikkelsen has taken on several villainous roles in his career, including Hannibal Lecter in the series “Hannibal” and Kaecilius in “Doctor Strange” and the actor gives yet another notable performance in this evil role.

Ultimately, it can be difficult to enjoy “Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore” knowing its rough image in the public eye. Going into the movie, I was nervous and not sure what to expect, but was pleasantly surprised by some well-crafted action sequences and memorable performances. “The Secrets of Dumbledore” is far from a perfect movie, especially when a person is aware of the film’s brutal circumstances, but if you are a fan of the Harry Potter series, eager to see Newt Scamander continue his adventures, or wanting to see Mads Mikkelsen bring another chilling performance as a villain, “Secrets of Dumbledore” is worth checking out.

“Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore” is now playing in theaters.

By Nicole Parisi

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