Mirrored by the words echoed early in the film, “The best plan is being no plan”, The Secrets of Dumbledore is exactly that. A film with multiple plans that results in no plan. In an attempt to recapture the very thing that seduced us into the Harry Potter franchise, Fantastic Beasts does little to separate itself from the Harry Potter series, and it’s in this that we see the franchise failing.
The movie starts off with a conversation. One between Albus Dumbledore and Gellert Grindelwald. In this conversation, we finally get what we have been hinted at for years. The confirmation that Dumbledore had a relationship with a man, one of the most dangerous men to ever cast a spell. The conversation while lovely and emotional does nothing for the plot. As beautiful as it was, this is the only “great’ thing about this movie. What we do get out of this is the love between Dumbledore and Grindlewald was true, but even that love will not stop Grindlewald from his mission to destroy the muggle world.
Following the conversation, Dumbledore asks Newt Scamander to gather a team for a co-op mission to stop Grindlewald. Albus Dumbledore (Jude Law), magizoologist Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne), Newt’s brother and Auror Theseus (Callum Turner), professor Lally Hicks (Jessica Williams), and muggle baker Jacob (Dan Fogler) set out to foil Grindelwald’s plans by confusing his visions of the future by having no plan, or many plans, it is hard to tell.
What Kind of Story is this?
The biggest problem with The Secrets of Grindlewald is that the movie attempts to address many convoluted themes in many convoluted ways. In some ways, the film can be viewed as a cautionary tale of corruption. Just like in the Harry Potter films, the ministry in this movie is weak as well. Dumbledore’s forewarning to the minister, “do what is right, not what is easy.” mirrors the same advice given to Cornelius Fudge 60 years later. The ministry’s corruption has been a key plot point in the Harry Potter Universe. This begs the question, is this the message to be learned? Are we supposed to view the Harry Potter films as political drama?
However, just as strong as the political messages we have messages of love and romance. The love between Dumbledore and Grindlewald, Queenie and Jacob, and Newt and Tina are of equal importance. Above all, the love of the wizarding community. Yusuf Kama’s love for his sister keeps him from coming under Grindlewald’s spell; Jacobs’s love leads him to join the fight once again, and Queenie’s love leads her back to him. Love is amplified in this film and is truly one of the saving graces but is that the purpose?
Is the film a magical beast story? The title of the film is “Fantastic Beasts: The Secretes of Grindelwald, however, we see little of the magical creatures. This is a change from the first film where we saw many creatures and those creatures were seemingly the heart of the film. Now in the third movie, we barely see any creatures at all.
The Dumbledores Are the Strength of The Film
The secrets of the Dumbledores is one of the best plot points of the film. As hinted in the other Harry Potter films, the relationship between the brothers is tense. With Abeforth still blaming Dumbledore for Ariana’s death and withholding pivotal information from Albus and Albus himself holding secrets; the family drama is interesting, to say the least. While their relationship is not explored well in the film it’s the personal secrets that drive the plot. With both brothers holding secrets that have put the wizarding world in danger, it is easy to see the Dumbledores as accomplices in Grindewald’s scheme. Their secrets not only expose the very best of magic but the very worst of it and it directly implicates Albus as being more of a complicated character than the all-wise professor we know and love.
Does this movie end the franchise on a nice note?
With reports that WB has not greenlit a fourth movie , the final question is can this movie end the franchise nicely? Unlike the end of the Harry Potter franchise, no one dies in Secrets of Dumbeldore and the movie ends positively. There is a marriage, Newt gets to be in the presence of Tina again, Dumbeldore is content with the outcome of the mission, for the first time in a Harry Potter film, there does not seem to be a grey cloud hovering over our characters’ heads. Does the film leave more to be desired? Of course. Is the plot fully developed? Not necessarily. There is a form of contentment with the end of this film.
The Secretes of Dumbledore is a bad movie with good bones. The characters are there, the tension is there, and the plot is right there but seemingly out of reach. While yes there is more that we want and deserve from the franchise, however, if we are going to get another messy, convoluted, run-of-the-mill movie, I think we can stick with this one.
For more from Deareyes, check out his review of The Batman here.