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Dumbledore’s Secrets, JK Rowling’s Latest Mess

Fantastic Beasts: Dumbledore’s Secrets follows in the footsteps of Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald in that just like that 2018 predecessor had virtually no crime, this third installment of the Harry Potter the prequel franchise has no real secrets. The revelation that Dumbledore is gay is both not a bombshell (since it was openly implied by the last film, after years of public statements by JK Rowling herself) and the kind of lukewarm revelation that only the most diehard Potterphiles will have. care about something that can also be said about the effort as a whole. Functional but never magical, this superficial exploitation of intellectual property is a reminder that all good things come to an end, even if the powers that be continue to exploit them for all they are worth.

Directed by David Yates, who has now directed the past Seven series entries and could probably use a new sandbox to play in, Dumbledore’s secrets doesn’t include trans characters or anti-trans sentiments, which should keep it from taking center stage in creator and co-writer Rowling’s Endless TERF War. What it has, thankfully, is a considerably less complicated plot than The Crimes of Grindelwald, which got tangled up in appreciable endless knots. Rowling and franchise vet Steve Kloves streamline their storyline as much as humanly possible, providing a measure of momentum that was missing from the previous outing. In terms of pacing, the film proves relatively quick, and while it still gets bogged down in a few unnecessary detours, it generally stays on course throughout, culminating in a smooth, satisfying coda.

Pick up where The Crimes of Grindelwald leave behind, Dumbledore’s secrets finds Hogwarts professor Albus Dumbledore (Jude Law) enlisting beast whisperer Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne), his brother Theseus (Callum Turner), Muggle baker Jacob Kowalski (Dan Fogler) and two additional wizards – Lally Hicks (Jessica Williams ) and Yusuf Kama (William Nadylam) – or a life-saving mission: thwart the plans of Gellert Grindelwald (Mads Mikkelsen), who wants to wage war on humanity in order to cement the place of magical people at the top of the evolutionary food chain. Dumbledore cannot personally take down Grindelwald because, when they were young lovers, they made a magical pact which prevented them from engaging in direct combat – a convenient twist (carried over from the last film) which is further complicated by Grindelwald getting and killing a magical creature that gives him the ability to see into the future. To deal with this situation, Dumbledore concocts a plan that none of his accomplices fully understand, creating confusing moves and motivations that Grindelwald cannot decipher.

There’s no mention of Grindelwald now looking like Mikkelsen rather than Johnny Depp, and that’s not the only thing elided in Dumbledore’s secrets; the sidelining of Katherine Waterston, co-manager of the original franchise, is also painfully visible. Such awkwardness is felt elsewhere, too, whether in Williams taking on the role of Zoë Kravitz as the heroic person of color in the proceedings (and Theseus’ apparent romantic interest), Queenie’s (Alison Sudol) to stay with Grindelwald despite wanting to be with his beloved Jacob, or the practical discovery that Grindelwald’s provident creature has a twin brother who ends up in Newt’s care (thereby giving him a counter power to his opponent). As for his previous fantastic beasts scenarios, it feels like Rowling is inventing new rules and paradigms, then immediately devising quick ways around them, which negates much of the drama’s stakes.

Grindelwald is an intolerant tyrant us against them and Dumbledore’s secrets casts his political rise in obvious Nazi terms, replete with the German Ministry of Magic conspiring to make him a candidate for election as head of the wizarding world. However, how Grindelwald might reconcile his Hitlerite aspirations and his homosexuality is never properly addressed – nor is Jewish Jacob’s horror at this turn of events – as is Dumbledore’s original kinship with Grindelwald (and his cause). ) is hovered over lest anyone pay too much attention to it. to its amazing. Yates distracts audiences from focusing on wacky and/or illogical elements with plenty of CGI glare. Much of this is impressively edited, albeit in a now familiar way; there are only a limited number of times you can see men and women producing wonders via their wands before everything becomes obsolete.

“Yates distracts audiences from focusing on wacky and/or illogical elements with plenty of CGI glare. Much of this is impressively edited, albeit in a now familiar way; there are only a limited number of times you can see men and women producing wonders via their wands before everything becomes obsolete.

A fundamental shortcoming of the whole fantastic beasts franchise is that, unlike the Harry Potter saga, Newt’s relationship to the greater battle against Grindelwald is tangential; instead of having a personal connection to the fight (like Harry did with Voldemort), he’s just a nice guy caught up in a bigger socio-political storm. Redmayne continues to do his usual twitchy-weirdo routine, but he feels less central to the story than ever before, as Rowling makes him and his cohort blind pawns to Dumbledore, who is also not a charismatic presence, despite Rowling giving it to him. additional baggage of family tragedy and law embodying it with the right mix of nobility, composure and soul. Despite the film’s title, Dumbledore is a likeable puppeteer who isn’t terribly enigmatic, including when it comes to his preference for men – a subject he broaches with the flippancy of someone who doesn’t think to say what. be it surprising.

Mads Mikkelsen as Gellert Grindelwald in Fantastic Beasts: Dumbledore’s Secrets

Courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures

Swapping out Depp’s ornate hair and suits for a simpler suit-and-tie style, Mikkelsen is the best aspect of Dumbledore’s secrets. Yet he’s been denied the opportunity to truly animate this tale, which prefers to waste time with Grindelwald’s servant – and Dumbledore’s supposed weapon of destruction – Credence Barebone (Ezra Miller), an annoying irritant who, like most others, appears as a narrative device disguised as a flesh-and-blood person.

The fact that we can understand what is happening from one moment to the next is, in the light of The Crimes of Grindelwalddizzying complications, a little relief. And Yates’ handling remains effective, full of lucidly imaginative set pieces that never quite overwhelm the emotions of the material. Unfortunately, the clockwork maneuvers of this tentpole are so routine that there is no suspense during its moments of great peril, and no elation over its triumphs. It’s simply more of the same spectacle Rowling has been peddling for decades, done with reasonable panache but generating diminishing returns excitement.