Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets Of Dumbledore is a surprisingly good film. I went into this with rock-bottom expectations, expecting this to be as bad as Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes Of Grindelwald. Thankfully, it wasn’t. Secrets Of Dumbledore doesn’t exactly have to try hard to beat its predecessor, because well, its predecessor was quite possibly the bane of all films in that year. But it somehow beats that, and then takes the franchise to a whole new level. I did not expect in a million years for this film to be good, let alone great. And yes, I’m using “great” to describe this film.
Fantastic Beasts 3 is the opposite of what you’d expect. JK Rowling may be extremely criticized for her stance on the LGBTQ+ community, but her writing is pretty damn good. And there’s a great plot around that. Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets Of Dumbledore fixes nearly all of the weaknesses from the previous films, and builds on their strengths. Rowling took the first two films (which were her first two screenplays) to hit her stride, but now she’s got it. I can’t wait to see what Fantastic Beasts 4 brings, and how Fantastic Beasts 5 wraps it all up.
Let’s kick this review off with a bang. For all of JK Rowling’s transphobic comments, WOW, does she deliver in this film. The entire plotline would not work without the single gay relationship in this film. It’s not some side piece or something that’s mentioned briefly. It’s something that’s been set up clearly and fits extremely well into the film, and in a main way. I won’t reveal the characters, for spoilers’ sake, but when you see the opening scene, you will understand immediately what I mean.
The extra time that David Yates, Steve Kloves, and Rowling used to prepare for this film are clear and wonderful. Between the original Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them and Crimes Of Grindelwald, there was only a 2-year break. Between Grindelwald and Secrets Of Dumbledore, however, there were over 3 years between films. This film was clearly improved and inspired due to COVID-19, in part because of the isolation theme used throughout the movie.
There really are some Fantastic Beasts in this film. Some old friends, like our buddy the Niffler and Picket the Bowtruckle. But that doesn’t mean there are new creatures, such as the Qilin and some cute spider-like creatures. The CGI is very well done in Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets Of Dumbledore, again due to the pandemic. The new creatures are incredibly lifelike, and honestly they’re all cute (don’t argue with me). Therefore, you’re gonna want stuffed animals of all of them. I’ve said my piece.
David Yates does an impeccable job of directing this film. His work with director of photography George Richmond is quite possibly Oscar-worthy (that’s for later). Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets Of Dumbledore is amazingly directed, due in part to Yates’ incredible shot choice. The landscape shots are used quite often, first in Germany, and then in Butan. They provide a look into the majestic world of magic, and invest us in the story quite deeply.
Jude Law is incomparable. His wit and character are only matched by Mads Mikkelsen, who happens to be playing his direct adversary. Their chemistry is exactly why Mikkelsen should’ve been Grindelwald from the start. Newcomer Jessica Williams is also outstanding as Professor Lally Hicks, and Eddie Redmayne is as charming as ever as Newt Scamander. A-list cast, don’t miss out. Now, to address a concern about Tina Goldstein. Yes, she’s in the film, but unfortunately, not for long. Her support for the trans community seems to have angered JK Rowling.
Costume designer Colleen Atwood should win an Oscar. I’m not even debating it. Her costumes are insane. They’ve went beyond what I thought was capable for a film like this. Though I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised, given the film’s ~$200M budget. Atwood has worked on countless films, notable ones being The Little Mermaid (2023), the entire Fantastic Beasts series as of yet, and Mission: Impossible III. As such, you can see where I’m going with this.
Awards + Reception
The Oscars are nuts. As a result, films will likely be missed in the nomination process that frankly, deserve to be nominated. Just ask Spider-Man: No Way Home or Luca. However, I don’t feel like Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets Of Dumbledore will be one of those films. This one has a serious shot at Best Costume Design and Best Production Design because of the pure skill and ingenuity put into it. As a result, it may even get nominated for some of the more major awards.
Other than the Oscars, this film has a good shot at a lot of the fan awards, since I expect it to be well critically received. My Rotten Tomatoes score prediction is somewhere around 65-85%, and a certified fresh tomato. It’s not a perfect film, but given all the negativity out there right now, I thought it best to talk about the positives, not the negatives.
Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets Of Dumbledore is a great film. Not perfect, but close to it. The film has the heart and soul of the Harry Potter franchise, and brings the magic back to the Wizarding World again. Comedy meets spectacle in this threequel in the franchise, and I cannot wait to see what Fantastic Beasts 4 has in store for us. Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets Of Dumbledore releases April 15, 2022, only in theaters.
Overall Grade: A-