Photo credit: Aditya Vyas on Unsplash
Reviewing Fantastic Beasts: Secrets of Dumbledore today. The first little bit will be a spoiler free review, talking about the movie in general and then I will dive into a fully fledged spoiled review. I will definitely include a spoiler alert before I start talking plot points. Be warned, there is a high probability this will turn into a rant.
There are two ways to watch the movie. One is to watch it by itself, as a stand alone series and the second is to watch it in the context of the Harry Potter universe. If you are a fan of the Harry Potter series, grew up with it and are able to separate these movies – good for you! I am honestly jealous.
First things first, the Secrets of Dumbledore is better than Crimes of Grindelwald by a lot. This part of the review is spoiler-free and also more accurate if you are watching this movie without the context of the Harry Potter universe. It is an okay movie. The visual effects are amazing, all fight sequences are beautifully shot and it is a well paced movie. Mads Mikkelsen is great as Grindelwald – I may be biased here because I really like Mads Mikkelsen in villain roles. He was great as Hannibal. Honestly, those are the only positive things I can muster up about the movie.
I grew up reading Harry Potter and used to be a huge fan. It has gotten me through some really tough times, it taught me about inclusion and has been like a security blanket for me. It all came crashing down when the author came out as a TERF. In retrospect, I should have seen the signs but I guess I was just blind. It was a heartbreaking moment. It took a lot out of me to find a way to separate the books from the hatred. It isn’t easy because it would be one thing if the series had ended in a completely – however, JK seems adamant on dragging out the Harry Potter universe until its death. Constant tweets, retcon and video games keep it in the public eye. All these cash grabby techniques are annoying at the least. Anti-trans is now combined with anti-Semitism – the new game about defeating a ‘goblin rebellion’ is problematic in more ways than one.
The natural question here is, why did I go watch the movie? I was sort of forced to. Some friends really wanted to watch it and I couldn’t get out of it for different reasons. I am hoping this review can help you if you are curious but have no interest in watching the movie. As mentioned earlier, it is almost impossible to separate the Fantastic Beasts from the Harry Potter universe because of all the forced connections they keep making in the movies. I am also going to be very nitpicky – I used to be super fan. I was on a Harry Potter fan panel at comic con so yes, it might be a bit much, I might be taking this a bit seriously but whatever. A lot of my life is spent with fictional characters and they become important to me.
Spoiler Alert – Plot points and nitpicking begins here.
The movie starts with retcon’d relationship between Dumbledore and Grindelwald. On the one hand, I am glad they made their very non-platonic relationship obvious but it just felt like too little, too late. Lets get the little inconsistencies out of the way first, shall we –
- They use a Portkey to transport from point A but arrive via Floo powder in point B.
- There is a lot of magic performed out in public around muggles – is the American Statute of Secrecy different than the British?
- Some of the magic makes no sense: this one witch is able to magically change not just her clothes but also Jacob’s?
- Albus and Aberforth have way more of a relationship than we were led to believe in the original.
- WHY THE HELL IS MINERVA MCGONAGALL A TEACHER ALREADY?
- There is a fake Azkaban called Irkstarg or something – no information about it is given.
- Albus can create illusionary settings like in Inception – what?
- The Room of Requirements just appears without all of them imagining the same thing.
- Killing curse didn’t kill a beast entirely – it was still groaning…
- ABERFORTH HAS A SON (it is Credence, what the freaking hell!!)
- There is one leader for the entire magical world? Since when?
- Two movies were spent with Grindelwald manipulating Credence but in a matter of minutes, Credence’s loyalties are turned.
- What happened to Dumbledore’s flamboyance?
- There is a forced emotional scene between Aberforth and Credence and it ends with “Always” – come on!!
- Dumbledore’s and Grindelwald’s wands meet like in Harry Potter – there was a very specific reason for it.
- Jacob’s wand is fake – it is just a stick.
The worst of all is the main conflict in the movie is so ridiculously solved. The three movies were all about how Dumbledore can’t fight Grindelwald because of this ‘blood oath’ they had taken as lovers. If either of them tried to attack the other, the blood oath would kill them. But by the end of the movie the oath is just… broken. Without any consequences. Grindelwald aims his wand to kill Credence and at the same time Dumbledore aims his wand to protect Credence and their wands meet. There is a short scuffle and the oath just shatters. Apparently it is fate? What a let down!
However, the ‘scuffle’ was actually very well shot. I enjoyed the chemistry between them in that scene. Although, Grindelwald has the freaking elder wand so how is he unable to subdue Dumbledore? I can let this one go because Dumbledore is a very powerful wizard.
There were some funny moments, not laugh out loud but puff of air funny. There was one scene in particular that I really enjoyed. They need to make decoy suitcases to protect a certain beast. One is filled with pastries, another filled with the monster book of monsters and a third filled with bludgers. Once opened, they start replicating like the items in Bellatrix’s vault. This, I thought was super fun and cool.
I am being forced to include this in here by my partner. He insists this is the most unrealistic aspect of the movie. They travel to Bhutan in the third half of the movie. If you have been to Bhutan you would know that they believe penises are sacred/good luck – it represents a certain magical monk and also fertility. The walls in Bhutan are covered in penis art. There is an entire tradition revolving around this when someone buys a new house. There isn’t a single penis in the movie. I did try to tell him that they were in the ‘wizard’ part of Bhutan but he wasn’t convinced. He says people need to know.
Bottom line – there are two more movies and you really aren’t missing much. You could probably watch it when it is eventually released on OTT and on a lazy Saturday when you aren’t in the mood to do anything.
Have you seen the movie? Are you going to see it? What are your thoughts about Harry Potter? Let me know!