There was no movie I was more skeptical about going into 2022 than Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore. I didn’t like the first in the new Wizarding World series and I really hated the second film Crimes of Grindelwald. However, my thoughts began to change when I found out they had brought back writer Steve Kloves, who adapted almost all of the Harry Potter books into movies instead of JK Rowling (who should stay away from screenwriting!).
Just by chance, I had the opportunity to interview Steve’s wife Kathy Kloves for Hallmarkies Podcast last month. We talked about her 2 very popular Hallmark movie scripts from 2021 but then I also asked her about her husband’s experience writing for Harry Potter. It’s a neat interview. Check it out.
What a difference a writer makes! I’m not just saying that because I’ve gotten to know Kathy a little bit.
While not perfect, Secrets of Dumbledore is so far superior to the other 2 films I wish we could start over and have this one be the first of a different trilogy. I know they say they are going to have 5 of these movies, but I doubt it. I’d be surprised if we see any more (of this chronology at least).
I want to be careful to not give this movie too much credit for being better than the last one which was practically unwatchable. It can’t completely right all the wrongs. It’s cluttered with too many plot-points and some underwritten characters (also a very strange election that didn’t make sense) but it at least it has a mostly-comprehensible plot with some whimsy and heroics. I certainly think most Harry Potter fans will be happy with this entry.
The cast is all excellent with Mads Mikkelsen a big upgrade over Johnny Depp as Grindelwald and Jude Law playing Dumbledore. Unfortunately their gay romance doesn’t amount to much. It’s mostly just talking about the past, a love vow and holding hands. I guess it’s a start but it’s not much. I’ve always found Eddie Redmayne’s Newt to be tough to connect with, but I liked Newt’s brother Theseus played by the dashing Callum Turner. More of him please!
Most of the stuff with Alison Sudol’s Queenie and Dan Fogler’s Jacob has been ruined by choices in the last movie and Ezra Miller’s Creedence makes no sense. I’m also not sure what this grown-up trilogy in the Wizarding World is trying to say. Obviously something about tyranny but the Harry Potter stories were much more nuanced with characters like Snape and Dumbledore making complex choices and Harry learning to forgive them for those choices.
All that said, if you are a fan of this world than this will be the movie you are waiting for. I hate to use the word fun but this is. It jumps around the globe with our characters trying to defeat Grindelwald and for the most part does a good job at that. The action is entertaining. The banter is bubbly. One might say the magic is back.
So for the first time I am going to recommend a Fantastic Beasts movie. It’s no masterpiece but if you are looking for an energetic blockbuster this will do the trick.
6 out of 10
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