And here I thought this franchise was something that would eventually come into its own…
Continuing the exploits of a wizard named Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne), the future Headmaster of Hogwarts, Albus Dumbledore (Jude Law), and even a muggle…er…No-Maj named Jacob Kowalski (Dan Fogler), Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore picks up some time after the last Fantastic Beasts movie, and sees Newt team up with Dumbledore to lay siege to the evil machinations of the villain named Gellert Grindelwald before he can tighten his nefarious grip on the Wizarding World and its residents. Needing to thwart Grindelwald’s threat of world domination, Newt and company are soon swept up in a dangerous game of politics and magical warfare as they attempt to stop their greatest enemy from seizing the kind of power he would only abuse, and in the worst-case scenario, use to declare war on all things No-Maj related.
The problem with the Fantastic Beasts franchise has more or less been about poor management and a bevy of unrealized expectations that have derailed this series from the start. From the completely average first entry to the slightly below average second, this third film gives fans more of the same while continuing to tread narrative water in a way that frustrates as well as annoys to a point that I’m not even sure if it’s worth continuing with these sequels anymore, despite the interest I admittedly still have for them.
Focusing more on the relationship between Dumbledore and his nemesis/ex-lover of Grindelwald than anything else, this film certainly has its heart in the right place, yet never does enough to make the adventure fans are experiencing one worth getting excited over or invested in. Ever so slightly moving the series’ mainstay players forward along their continually muddied character arcs, this sequel feels like a half-baked film that comes across as an obligation rather than something that needed to be made.
And despite some wildly satisfying set-pieces steeped in some truly magical goodness, I can’t honestly say where this franchise might go from here, as the central conflict of this series has been obscured by a slow sense of progression and piecemealing that hasn’t done its filmmakers — or fans — any favors. Sure the characters will always be fun to watch and the world enjoyable to live in, but when you’re three movies into a story that really hasn’t gone anywhere (save for some vague Grindelwald/Dumbledore related revelations), things either need to get better quick or get finished out in a way that makes audiences feel like their time watching these films has been worth it.
So while it’s not a movie that I straight out hated, I can’t say that I was entirely happy with the results either, with the question of “what’s the point” firmly stuck at the front of my mind after all was said and done. Experiencing the wonder of the Wizarding World may never get old, but as it stands, Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore does a lot to help convince audiences otherwise.