JK Rowling’s desperation to keep her Wizarding World alive seems to be fading as the third installment of the Harry Potter spinoffseries, Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledorehas lost the usual magic and excitement of the other Rowling film adaptations.
Notable Hogwarts professor Albus Dumbledore (Jude Law) gathers together a group of wizards to avert Gellert Grindelwald (Mads Mikkelsen) from taking over the magical world and evoking a war with the non-magical world. A rigged election causes Grindelwald to gain more power than he already had, which challenges Dumbledore’s ability to overcome his past relationship with him.
It’s extremely hard to tell what exactly is going on in this film. Rowling writing the screenplay was a mistake, writing a screenplay is different from writing a 700-page book where scenes and plot points can be drawn out. With a runtime of 2 and a half hours, it should be full of action and magic but is instead filled with boring conversations that just lead to more questions that are left unanswered.
Her involvement has drawn the series down, not only because of her lacking screenplays but because of her political views that many, including several cast members, have disagreed with. If the series really wants to see any growth or improvement, it’s going to have to lessen Rowling’s involvement from her.
On paper, this third story is blatantly boring and worthless, it wouldn’t even make a good novel. Visually, the film has some great CGI moments but was often undercut. For example, the action scenes were brilliant and worthy of praise but the screen time was always short-lived, with the fighting scenes lasting only about a minute. The moments leading up to these physical fight scenes were reassuring, but the payoff was unsatisfactory. The series keeps teasing war and a revolution but there seems to be nothing of the sort.
The first movie in the series was full of prosperity and excitement, but the following two installations had washed it out, using all that progressive magic to darken the storyline and undermine the fantastic beasts. It turned most of its energy on Dumbledore, a character from the previous franchise, making the series lose its independence. The new characters were promising and lovable, but now they appear solely as background characters, with one being almost completely shut out from the entire film.
Now, the progression of the series has been extremely slow, making it feel as though the series has no intentional direction. Grindelwald’s progression, which has been heavily affected by the replacement of Johnny Depp, is nowhere near making its way to be like Voldemort’s villain arc. Even though Mikkelsen replacing Depp made lots of fans upset and ultimately boycott the franchise, the switch is honestly an acceptable alteration but the script does not seem to be leading his character anywhere.
The overall performances of the cast are one of the only contributing factors to the film. Law plays a compelling Dumbledore, an honest and true fit to the legendary role. Eddie Redmayne stills plays his anti-social magizoologist wonderfully, being one of the best characters in the whole franchise. Sadly, he doesn’t seem to get the recognition that he deserves, as he starts to become more of a background character as the franchise moves on.
Dan Fogler, who plays the only muggle character in the franchise, is still contributing heavily to the comedic factor of the franchise. But other than his contribution to making audiences laugh every now and then, his character oddly manages to carry some of the plots on his own, providing some necessary compassion to the film.
After several agonizing years of queerbaiting, Dumbledore’s sexuality has finally been dwelled on, bringing the past relationship between him and Grindelwald to the forefront. But without knowing the history, the way that they present the relationship makes them look more like really close friends, rather than a past coupling. Rowling playing the “safe route” is overwhelmingly devastating and tries to account for warranted fan service but fails miserably.
Overall the third installment does more harm than good with no progress being made, promising moments being undermined and a boring plot dragging for 2 and a half hours. After enduring several instances of controversy and backlash, there sadly seems to be no redemption for the franchise. What was supposed to be a promising series is now being thrown down into the garbage, making it time for Rowling to stop cashing out on her only achievement of her and retire the series for the greater good.