“Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore” is the third film in the “Fantastic Beasts” series, following 2016’s “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” and 2018’s “Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald.” As the third installment of this prequel to the “Harry Potter” series, the film marks an improvement over the second film, even if it doesn’t quite reach the same level of magic as the first.
The story takes place around 18 months after the events of the previous installment. As Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne, “The Theory of Everything”) continues his research in Magizoology, he’s called upon by a young Albus Dumbledore (Jude Law) to help combat Gellert Grindelwald (Mads Mikkelsen), a follower of He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named who seeks to start a war between wizards and non-magic users. This results in a chase around the world from Germany to Bhutan and everywhere in between over the course of 142 minutes.
Director David Yates, who helmed the previous two installments, as well as four of the eight main “Harry Potter” films, continues to prove he’s more than capable of making a compelling period fantasy film on a $200 million budget. Though the film does have tinges of YA drama that impacted the previous installment in 2018, its plot feels more coherent – the subplots complement the main story rather than clash with it. Even if the film is the third of five planned installments, nearly all the loose ends from the last movie are tied up by the time of the final battle in Bhutan. The best aspects of the film remain the ones committed to the original premise: a depiction of a part of the world that no longer exists and a bunch of magical beasts that never existed at all.
While the future of the Wizarding World franchise remains unclear, “Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore” marks a solid middle chapter in the series that’s at least worth watching, even if it’s not up to the same levels of magic as previous outings.
Starring Eddie Redmayne, Jude Law, Mads Mikkelsen, Ezra Miller, Katherine Waterston and Dan Fogler
Directed by David Yates