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The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

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“The Secrets of Dumbledore” Is An Anticlimactic Continuation of the “Fantastic Beasts” Franchise

The latest installment forwards the film series, but underwhelms as a standalone project.
Photo Courtesy / YouTube Warner Bros

“Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them: The Secrets of Dumbledore,” the third installment of the “Harry Potter” spin-off franchise released in April 2022, is a disappointing continuation of the enchanting series. The anticipation for its release was high, due to its connection to the original “Harry Potter” novels and film adaptations. The series is based on a textbook by the same name that the students of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry had to purchase in their first year of school, in which the details of the field of Magizoology – the study of magical creatures – were outlined. 

The first two films of this franchise — “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them,” and “The Crimes of Grindelwald” — held the same magic as the original “Harry Potter” series. They felt charming, fascinating and were thoroughly enjoyable because the screenplays truly captured the special moments and highlighted the twists of the stories in a way that was surprising and monumental. There was a level of excitement to them, as the casting, plot and cinematography all brought the books to life. The soundtrack played an important role in the first two films as well, as it built up the anticipation for the key plot moments and reveals. 

Yet the third film in the series, “The Secrets of Dumbledore,” was not nearly as magical. While it had scenes in the ever-famous Hogwarts Castle, the film lacked the enchantment that has become a staple of the Harry Potter universe., The main character in the first two movies, Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne), was relegated to a supporting role rather than a lead. In the first two films, Newt was central to the plot, as he was tasked with searching for certain magical creatures, as well as Dumbledore’s best friend turned enemy, Gellert Grindelwald (Johnny Depp/Mads Mikkelsen). While I can understand why the decision to downplay Newt’s role was made, as the third film focuses on the secrets of Dumbledore, it was still disappointing that he was not as critical to the main story.  

The subtitle of the movie, “The Secrets of Dumbledore,” seemingly focuses on Albus Dumbledore (Jude Law) as he is the most prominent individual of the Dumbledore family. However, the title could be referring to the Dumbledore family as a whole. The viewer comes to find that every Dumbledore portrayed in the film has secrets of his or her own that were revealed for the first time in the latest installment of the franchise. This was a clever way to advertise, as we received more information on Albus’s family than was expected.  

WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD   

However, there were many parts where secrets were revealed in which I found myself confused; this was not a result of the plot itself, but because the screenwriting and delivery were anticlimactic. There were several situations where I thought ‘Wait, what did they just say?’ 

At one point, it was revealed that Albus Dumbledore’s brother, Aberforth (Richard Coyle), had a son named Credence (Ezra Miller). This should have been a big reveal, as readers and viewers were under the impression that Credence was the uncontrollable villain of the first two books/films, and was a distant relative of the Harry Potter villain, Voldemort. This was a shocking plot twist, and should have been revealed as one; however, the information was portrayed on the big screen as casual conversation. What should have been a shocking and surprising moment felt more like a throwaway comment.  

“The Secrets of Dumbledore” sets up the next two films fairly well despite the lack of magic and surprise. Though this third movie may not have been as magical, action-packed or overly entertaining, it has the potential to be the staple ‘information’ movie within a film series. It may appear weak as a standalone film, but  when viewing the series as a whole, it is obvious that the slow-placed film is the one that provides critical information that moves the plot forward through dialogue, rather than action, and ultimately sets up the rest of the series. “The Secrets of Dumbledore” – if the next two films are written to follow this concept – has the potential to give the upcoming films their direction.    

Warner Bros. Originally planned to make this a five-film installment, however, due to the controversy within the cast and this installment not being received well by the public, the next two films are now up in the air and may or may not be made. “‘The Secrets of Dumbledore’ had the lowest box office opening for the series, only grossing $6 million opening night. In comparison, the first ‘Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them’ collected $8.7 million, and ‘The Crimes of Grindelwald’ made $9.1 million. These numbers suggest viewers are losing interest in the ‘Fantastic Beasts’ series.” 

Ultimately, “The Secrets of Dumbledore” was underwhelming. It lacked what was expected from it: magic. Being part of the Harry Potter universe, it is inevitable to compare the two franchises. Creating something based on the monumental “Harry Potter,” a multi-billion-dollar series, must have been a daunting task. But still, this film lacked the spark and the magic that has made these movies such a joy to watch. A viewer looking for the same aura as the twenty year-old original franchise is likely to be disappointed. However, there is reason for optimism with regard to the last two installments of the “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” series.

 

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