Fantastic Beasts: Dumbledore’s Secrets (2022) Review
It’s hard to get really excited about the Harry Potter (or whoever you ask, the Wizarding World franchise) in 2022. Not just the bloated second Fantastic BeasIt doesn’t film an all-time drop in quality, but writer and creator JK Rowling can’t shy away from the big headlines for all the wrong reasons. And now casting issues are changing characters and continuity on the fly: it’s a real mess. Fantastic Beasts: Dumbledore’s Secrets makes no concerted effort to save the recent confluence of madness.
Actors Dan Fogler and Mads Mikkelsen will give it a try though. The former is still having a lot of fun as the audience’s stand-in and resident human Jacob: and arguably the only cast member who seems visible that he’s happy to be there. Mikkelsen, a consummate professional, does well, taking over from Johnny Depp, and bringing to life a less hammy, more menacing, and more vulnerable version of arch-villain and precursor to Voldemort, Gellert Grindelwald.
This once-promising series, which started out as a silly foray into “the old days of Harry Potter” with actual fantastical beasts (and pre-2020 JK Rowling), slowly became a convoluted and cynical attempt to unite the two. timelines and sell more Harry Potter. Blu-ray discs. The Crimes of Grindelwald did him a disservice; stumbling over itself, creating a whole bunch of plot holes, weak connective tissue, and unanswered questions, many of which the third film doesn’t attempt to resolve.
“Fantastic Beasts: Dumbledore’s Secrets is much less of a train wreck compared to its predecessor…”
In this spirit, Fantastic Beasts: Dumbledore’s Secrets is much less of a train wreck compared to its predecessor: not that it’s a big bar to jump. While there are plenty of annoying macro-lore breadcrumbs to the film’s detriment, they’re less prevalent. There are more fantastic places to give Secrets of Dumbledore a sense of scale (and boost the budget to potentially franchise-ending levels), and popcorn (which has become a specialty of director David Yates), there is a degree of show Harry Potter fans will generally appreciate.
There’s a huge disconnect between the seriousness of what this stark new universe has become and the excitement of parts of the film that are clearly meant to evoke joy. To coin a phrase: the wizarding world has lost a lot of its magic and can’t rely on a sympathetic cast (including Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, and Emma Watson) to carry it across the finish line.
We are a long way from “Dumbledore has a brother?!” with Fantastic Beasts: Dumbledore’s Secrets, having almost as much of an impact as the writers room supposed, and the finale is a calamity of precipitous anticlimactic events. Ultimately, not even Mads Mikkelsen can topple this franchise. If there is any hope of righting the ship, WB must take control away from David Yates and JK Rowling.