Set in the 1930s, Professor Albus Dumbledore (Jude Law) knows the powerful dark wizard Gellert Grindelwald (Mads Mikkelsen) is moving to seize control of the Wizarding World, including the magical communities in Bhutan, Germany, and China. Unable to stop him alone, he entrusts Magizoologist Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne) to lead an intrepid team of wizards, witches, and Muggle Jacob Kowalski (Dan Fogler). The team sets forth on a dangerous mission, where they encounter old and new beasts and clash with Grindelwald’s growing legion of followers.

Raise your hand if you consider the Harry Potter series a big point of nostalgia. Based on a best-selling book series, we were given a world of magical adventures and memorable characters across eight movies. But when the main Potter story concluded in 2011 with no sights to move forward, the Wizarding World went backward with the Fantastic Beasts prequels, to mixed results. While Where to Find Them was a promising start, Crimes of Grindelwald brought a massive letdown, causing a fork in the road of interest for the planned five-part series. In the case of The Secrets of Dumbledore, they certainly improved on quite a bit in this threequel. It was clear that the mission was to rectify and retcon a lot of questionable story elements from part 2 that would’ve crashed and burned the Potter franchise. However, because there are still two more movies left in this series, Secrets of Dumbledore acts as a middle chapter that doesn’t quite progress the series to massive heights.

With the title alluding to everyone’s favourite professor and his family, Judd Law as Albus Dumbledore still delivers a wonderful youthful version of what Richard Harris and Michael Gambon brought before. He most definitely says his words calmly, especially with several confirmed bombshells. While it’s still confusing that a zookeeper and a muggle bakery owner are in the midst of a political thriller plot, Redmayne and Fogler still bring a lot of charm and heart to the story. Now, the elephant in the room that needs to be discussed regarding Secrets of Dumbledore is the recasting of Johnny Depp as Grindelwald. While the real-world circumstances of Depp being fired is certainly an act of injustice, the bizarre bleach blonde/ bung eye portrayal he brought previously won’t be missed. Instead, Mads Mikkelson brings a lot more gravitas to the villainous role, showing a duality of charisma and intimidation.

Overall, while Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore is a massive improvement from its predecessor, it’s not a particularly memorable high point for the Wizarding World franchise. However, fans of the Harry Potter movies will certainly get a lot of enjoyment of Secrets of Dumbledore with the likable characters and the endless references and callbacks (or call-forwards?) as well as bringing a safe return to form.

Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore is in cinemas on April 7th.

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