“Professor Albus Dumbledore must assist Newt Scamander and his partners as Grindelwald begins to lead an army to eliminate all Muggles.”

Director: David Yates
Writers: J.K. Rowling, Steve Kloves
Staring: Jude Law, Mads Mikkelsen, Eddie Redmayne, Ezra Miller, Callum Turner, Dan Fogler
Rating: PG-13
Release Date: April 15, 2022

Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets Of Dumbledore (2022) is the third and final part of the Fantastic Beasts trilogy. The story began with Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them (2016) and the world was introduced to Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne). Since then there have been bundles of characters introduced, including a younger version of Albus Dumbledore (Jude Law).

This movie is about Albus and his relationship. Forget Newt. He is literally a pawn in this game.

Gellert Grindelwald (Mads Mikkelsen) is a bad man and he wants to unify the magical world against the muggles. He is taking his even mission into the political sphere and is well on his way to being selected as the leader to all those with fantastical abilities. Among his crew of evil minions are some familiar faces from previous movies, most importantly Credence Barebone (Ezra Miller), who is a powerful wizard due in large part to the hate he has for Albus.

Why does Gellert need Credence to go after Albus? Well, the two former lovers have a blood pact where they can not hurt each other. Therefore, both parties need their own parties to accomplish tasks in order to stumble the other’s plans.

On Dumbledore’s side, he has his own version of a rat pack. Scamander is the deputy in charge of his brother Theseus Scamander (Callum Turner), muggle Jacob Kowalski (Dan Fogler), and a series of other characters that doesn’t necessarily deserve the light of day. Together this rag-tag group of characters ban together in an experiment of faith to stop Grindelwald from taking over the magical world and starting a war with the non-magic world.

Let’s just dive into the craziness. It is far more entertaining than the movie itself.

According to IMDB trivia, Johnny Depp took part in one scene on the set of Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets Of Dumbledore before he was asked to leave due to the craziness and controversy around him. Due to his contract structure, Depp was paid his full 16 million dollar contract. He was still paid 16 million dollars for being on set one day. That is absolutely bonkers.

That wasn’t the only mess around the release of this movie. While Johnny Depp you can debate on whether or not he is the worst part of his former relationship with Amber Heard, no one can deny that Ezra Miller is a bad person. Miller’s Vermont farm had guns, drugs, bullets and odd shrines. Now admittedly, none of these things are inherently bad, but they are not confidence inducing either.

Miller put out a statement where they said they were battling mental health issues. Speaking strictly as myself, such a diagnosis doe snot excuse you from felony burglary charges, or from using drugs and guns as heavy cult-like influence over a young women. These two occurrences came after the The Secrets Of Dumbledore, but in March, a month before the release of what is attempting to be a franchise saving movie, Miller was arrested in Hawaii for disorderly conduct and harassment. Miller also used their sexual identity as a transgender non-binary as an excuse to not be searched by police.

Guess what. You break the law, you have to deal with the consequences. That is the law.

Alright, now that i have pissed enough people off, we can get back to Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets Of Dumbledore.

All of this drama. All of this bad public relations around some of the most important characters in the movie did not help the disappointing box office numbers. Sure, The Secrets Of Dumbledore made 405 million dollars world wide, but only 95 million of that came from the United States. There was a lack of enthusiasm around the film before it was released. That nonchalantness from a usual rampant fan base, plus the lack of quality, combined with Miller’s and Depp’s off-cameras storylines, did not bode well.

I can not heartedly recommend that anyone check out Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets Of Dumbledore. While this finale to the trilogy is a step-up from the Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes Of Grindelwald (2018), it is only a true improvement because you can actually follow the plot, Do you give a shit about the play? No, not at all. How are we supposed to care about characters that lack any sense of charisma?

Newt Scamander is beyond dull. He is not even the main character in what was meant to be his entire franchise. The amount of characters in The Secrets Of Dumbledore is blurring to the eye. Unless you have ritualistically watched the movie’s two previous films or watched a seven minute recap on YouTube (like I did), then you are going into this movie blind to everyone’s ambitions and motivations. Director David Yates and writers J.K. Rowling and Steve Kloves attempt to circumvent the stunted character arcs by making The Secrets Of Dumbledore a team-up movie. It is essentially a heist movie with everyone playing a key part under the guileful but often physically absent eye of the gangs leader. Dumbledore is the Danny Ocean to Newt’s Rusty Ryan, but rather than trying to steal something, they are trying to safe the world from a stolen election.

Can we talk about how Rowling and Kloves decided to make Grindelwald Adolf Hitler? Can we talk about how one the nose they make this? Literally having the German magical government be the centerpiece for the political turmoil is a punch-the-audience in the face choice. Oh, and the movie was filmed in Berlin, Germany as well.

While I don’t love the obvious nature of it, I do have a theory about it.

The choice to paint Grindelwald as a Hitler stand-in stems from the fact that they did not develop the scope of his evilness well enough in the first two movies. The Fantastic Beasts series was meant to be five movies long. This as said by Rowling back in 2016. Due to the rather obvious lack of quality and sub par financial success, the franchise was reduced to three. This rush to finish led to a quickening of the character’s development, and what easier way to do that than to emulate one of history’s most evil man?

The sprint to the finish for this attempted franchise also led to neglect in regards to the super important relationship regarding Albus Dumbledore and Gellert Grindelwald. These who men were former lovers, really anchoring down the announcement Rowling had one day that Dumbledore, the novel’s character, was gay. The opening scene of The Secrets Of Dumbledore attempts to immediately ingratiate the viewers to the two’s connection. There is the same milky hue both at the start and at the end of the movie. We have the initial showdown over tea and words, anchored by the final showdown over wands. That part in itself, the symmetrical storytelling in regards to the color tone, is smart writing and filmmaking. However, all of the in-between and the amount of blanks the audience is asked to fill-in make the ending scene more of a chore than it is desired to be. It is like a couple you know but don’t totally understand and then you are there to witness the last fight in the bar that sends them over the edge. You don’t have the emotional baggage regarding the result of the fight, but nonetheless, drama for dramas sake is a good thing.

Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets Of Dumbledore is like watching your favorite team’s cheerleaders try and get the crowd going while the team is getting killed on field. The distractions are not working. The special effects, callbacks, funny quips and encyclopedia of characters can do nothing to distract from the fact that the movie leaves no emotional and enjoyable impact.

Stanko Rating: D (2.0/5 Stars)

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