Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore keeps this series limping on but its punishing dullness makes you wonder for how much longer
“Our best hope… is to confuse him”
Between the off-screen behaviour of actors Johnny Depp and Ezra Miller and the continuing transphobic travails of JK Rowling on Twitter, it could be seen a miracle that Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore even made it to the screen. Equally though, this third film in that increasingly beleagured Fantastic Beasts prequel series makes you wonder if it was even worth it.
The insistence of spinning out this series to epic proportions is unsurprising given film studios’ reliance on established IP but without any real storytelling imperative, it is baffling. And that is where the last film and now this one have really fallen down, Rowling’s screenplay (co-written with Steve Kloves) really not doing anything to convince that there’s a story here worth telling.
They try to cover all bases but in doing so, satisfy none of them. There’s an unconvincing take on the rise of fascism in the wizarding world, an exploration of Dumbledore’s sexuality that is so deep it could be removed for Chinese markets, constant callbacks to the Harry Potter universe that remind you of the lack of dramatic stakes here; magical creatures shoehorned in almost as an afterthought.
It is all just incredibly dull and a real slog to get through, as numerous subplots and supporting characters overload the screen. Jude Law and Mads Mikkelsen (in for Depp) try their best to layer in depth and Eddie Redmayne manfully leads from the front but it is a thankless task. It would be better for all concerned if the projected five-film series remains at this troubled trilogy.