THE SECRETS OF DUMBLEDORE makes for a riveting watch

Fantastic Beasts – The Secrets of Dumbledore (English) Review {3.5/5} & Review Rating

Back in 2016, we saw the release of the first film in the FANTASTIC BEASTS series with FANTASTIC BEASTS AND WHERE TO FIND THEM, following this was the film FANTASTIC BEASTS: THE CRIMES OF GRINDELWALD in 2018. Now, we see the release of the third instalment in the series with FANTASTIC BEASTS: THE SECRETS OF DUMBLEDORE. Interestingly though, the latest film comes as the eleventh release in the Wizarding Word with the earlier eight films belonging to the HARRY POTTER series. Given the lineage, expectations from the new release have been at an all-time high with viewers and fans expecting answers to questions that have been raised since the release of the first Harry Potter film back in 2001. However, will the new release answer these questions or will it raise more is what we analyse.

FANTASTIC BEASTS: THE SECRETS OF DUMBLEDORE starts in the jungles of Bhutan with Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne) helping a qilin, a magical creature that can see into one’s soul as well as the future, give birth. Gellert Grindelwald’s (Mads Mikkelsen) disciples, led by Credence Barebone (Ezra Miller), attack, kill the mother, and kidnap the newborn, who Grindelwald kills to harness its ability of precognition. After escaping with his life, Newt and his brother Theseus (Callum Turner) are recruited by Albus Dumbledore (Jude Law), who is unable to fight Grindelwald due to a blood pact. Along with the two American mage Lally Hicks (Jessica Williams), Senegalese-French mage Yusuf Kama (William Nadylam), and American No-Maj Jacob Kowalski (Dan Fogler) join the team to thwart Grindelwald’s plan for world domination. Meanwhile, Grindelwald has sent Credence, to assassinate Dumbledore before the leaders of the wizarding world gather in Bhutan, where the new Supreme Head is to be elected by the ancient tradition of being found worthy by a qilin, who bows to those, pure of heart. Using necromancy, Grindelwald has the qilin it bow to him, thus manipulating the election. He immediately declares war on all muggles and tortures Jacob for trying to assassinate him. Will Albus’ team of mages and no-maj be able to stop Grindelwald’s rise, will Credence finally find out who he is, will Grindelwald be elected as the leader of the Supreme Head are some of the questions that make up the rest of the film.

Right from the start viewers are taken deep into the magical world on a rise with Newt Scamander, like the previous film FANTASTIC BEASTS: THE SECRETS OF DUMBLEDORE does introduce new beats, as well as feature some returning critter who are joy to see on screen. Much like the previous two films, the latest release integrates the magical creatures into the story line assisting with narration while taking the plot forward. The story keeps a steady pace, while detailing what unfolds as Grindelwald attempts to assume power as the Supreme Head. Through the proceedings, the viewers are taken on not just a visual journey but also an immersive experience as they delve once again into a magical universe, all the while answering questions that were raised in the past 10 films. In fact, FANTASTIC BEASTS: THE SECRETS OF DUMBLEDORE brings things a full circle as it explains in more detail finer points and references made in previous releases. Peppered with light humour, courtesy Dan Fogler’s character, the film does not become a constant drivel of wizard battles and chases.

Director David Yates, along with Steve Kloves has done a commendable job in integrating the magical beats giving them not just titular roles, but rather roles that assist the main characters. In fact, Yates keeps the on screen story moving at a steady pace, while simultaneously introducing new angles and sub plots to the main story line. Done in a fashion that makes the various line interline seamlessly, the film makes for a rather pleasant viewing. Speaking of the film’s screenplay, J K Rowling has returned with Steve Kloves who assisted on the Harry Potter series and the first film in the FANTASTIC BEASTS film. The two who have proved their mastery over the written word have done a marvellous job with the latest release managing to bring back feels of the Potter series that ended in 2011. In terms of dialogues, there really is not much to say. Well worded, brief and to the point, the dialogues convey what is needed while at same time maintaining a sense of secrecy and urgency when required.

Coming to performances, the entire cast seems to have put their best foot forward. From Eddie Redmayne, to Jude Law to Mads Mikkelsen each have done a brilliant job with their given roles. The same holds true for the rest of the cast. However, a slight downer comes with the underutilization of Mikkelsen, who has proved over the years his forte of displaying an uncanny menace with a smile. Though at certain times his brilliance shines through, the viewer cannot help but feel his part should have been fleshed out a bit more in detail. On the other side, Mikkelsen does equally well in portraying a softer side to his rather harsh character when required with panache. Dan Fogler who returns as the no-maj Jacob Kowalski, is spot on with his comic timing. Though considerably lesser than the first film in the series, the comic element does manage to leave an impact.

A mention has to be made for George Richmond who looks into the cinematography, with sweeping yet captivating visuals the viewer is planted firmly in their seats. If that was not enough, be sure that the viewers are treated to stunning visuals reminiscent of the visuals from the Potter series that depict vast landscapes across the magical universe. Stuart Craig and Neil Lamont’s costume design keeps in line with the previous two films maintaining a sense of uniformity. In fact, the duo along with Colleen Atwood have done well to depict the 1930’s era in terms of costumes, styling and setting.

Coming to the action and VFX, FANTASTIC BEASTS: THE SECRETS OF DUMBLEDORE makes for a fun and riveting watch thanks to the seamless VFX that makes wizarding battles look like well-choreographed sequences. While one may want for more, rest assure there are enough battles and wand wielding shenanigans to satiate your appetite for magic. Mark Day on editing has done equally well, while there are times when a sequence could be a bit shorter; Day keeps it light while not missing points.

On the whole, FANTASTIC BEASTS: THE SECRETS OF DUMBLEDORE makes for a riveting watch. For Potter heads, the film is a throwback to the series in terms of visuals, action, adventure, and of course magic. Answering questions that have caused many a discussion, the film is certainly a must watch for the wizard in you. At the box office, FANTASTIC BEASTS: THE SECRETS OF DUMBLEDORE that releases across 1500 screens stands a good chance to post decent numbers, with a relatively open weekend and first week, and a huge fan base of the series in India.

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