The first secret of Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore is there is nothing to see here. The second secret is that this movie is a disastrously awful third entry in the already tepid Harry Potter spinoff series.
It’s hard to imagine Warner Bros. continuing with what was originally supposed to be a five-film arc due to the diminishing financial returns, the now-controversial JK Rowling, and star Ezra Miller’s repeated clashes with the law. Never mind the fact that no one could possibly care about any of the characters or events from this movie.
Finally sapped of all humor and life, this new Fantastic Beasts movie is a joyless slog, two hours of plodding politics and meandering story threads that never once come together to form anything even remotely coherent. It’s a movie about magic that has no magic to it; it’s a movie devoid of energy, lovable characters, or purpose.
Mads Mikkelsen takes over for Johnny Depp as the evil Grindelwald, who continues to be an utterly bland villain compared to He Who Shall Not Be Named. Mikkelsen is an inspired casting choice, but he had no chance with the material at hand. Jude Law shows up occasionally as Grindelwald’s former lover Albus Dumbledore, but doesn’t at all resemble the old bearded dude you know he’ll become. Eddie Redmayne is more tolerable and less irritating as Newt Scamander this time around, but only because most of his manic mannerisms have been stripped away because maybe Rowling finally acknowleged how much of an irritatant he was in past entries. Other cast members are given little to do, with Dan Fogler—a point of comic relief in the past—looking confused as to why he is now just as boring as his castmates. None of this is a criticism of the actors—the writing is just a hollow mess of nothingness. Things happen, but there is no emotion. No sense of joy, or dread, or anything in between.
And that is the saddest secret of all.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.