Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore (2022)

Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore (2022)

2022 PG-13 142 Minutes

Fantasy | Adventure

In an effort to thwart Grindelwald's plans of raising pure-blood wizards to rule over all non-magical beings, Albus Dumbledore enlists his former student Newt Scamander, who agrees to help, though...

Overall Rating

5 / 10
Verdict: So-So

User Review

  • WHAT I LIKED: There were many problems with 'Crimes of Grindelwald,' but prime among them was the fact that its story had no compelling central drive, so the film was instead made up of disconnected subplots to introduce various different characters. 'Secrets of Dumbledore,' rectifies that, as it's very clearly about a ragtag group attempting to stop Grindelwald (Johnny Depp replaced here by Mads Mikkelsen on top form) from declaring war on muggles, and little gets in the way.

    That at least gives whatever the characters are doing a compelling baseline motive, and that's made all the more engaging by the lovely, "pure of heart," Scamander and Kowalski (the only redeeming features of the previous movie), and the complex (though under-developed) personal relationship between Jude Law's Dumbledore (the group's leader) and Grindelwald himself.

    WHAT I DIDN'T LIKE: It is still true that much of what happens will leave you pretty bewildered, and that's largely down to the fact that the film starts scenes without providing any idea of what's going on in them, only to explain afterwards with a bunch of clunky, throwaway reasoning.

    That's partly a symptom of the fact that the plan of the protagonists is to rather laughably "not have a plan," as Grindelwald apparently has the ability to see their futures, so characters often walk into situations without any idea what they're doing there themselves. But it's not just the in-the-moment motivations that are sometimes unclear; David Yates' camera shakes and winds around the protagonists so much that what's going on around them is almost impossible to establish too. It's not as if all of that is being done in service of tension or mystery either, it's just so bizzarely shot and edited (not to mention poorly lit) that it leaves you extremely confused above all else.

    It doesn't help either that there are so many characters to keep track of, and precious little time to develop any of them, so in the end it is true that many scenes will leave you confused with no discernable character motivations to keep you engaged.

    VERDICT: 'Secrets of Dumbledore,' has a compelling central story and some great moments, but its clumsy execution and bewildering array of characters often overwhelms.