IANS Review: ‘Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore’: Visually immersive but shallow narrative
Los Angeles : Rooted deep in the mythology of J.K. Rowling’s Wizarding World, this film is the third instalment of the five-part Harry Potter prequel.The film takes off from where it left in the previous edition, where at the near end of the film, we discovered that Albus Dumbledore (Jude Law) had been close to Grindelwald in his youth and had made a magical blood pact preventing them from ever fighting. Earlier, Johnny Depp essayed Grindelwald. In this edition, Mads Mikkelsen replaces him.Set in the 1930s, Europe, the plot delves into the electoral process and its politics to choose the Supreme Head of the International Confederation of Wizards. The powerful and dark wizard, Gellert Grindelwald (Mads Mikkelsen), who is recently released from prison- is determined to stand for the election. How he plans to make the way clear for him forms the crux of the story.In a conversation with his one-time paramour, Professor Albus Dumbledore (Jude Law), Grindelwald makes it clear, “With or without you, I’ll burn down their world Albus”.
Unable to stop him alone, Albus entrusts Magizoologist Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne) to lead an intrepid team of wizards and witches, which includes his brother Theseus (Callum Turner), Lally (Jessica Williams), Bunty (Victoria Yates), and one brave Muggle baker Jacob (Dan Fogler), on the dangerous mission of stopping Grindelwald.But, “How can you confuse a man who can see the future?” is their predicament.You get to see, how the team encounters old and new beasts, and clashes with Grindelwald’s growing legion of followers.The plotline of the narrative is paper-thin and superfluously stretched. While the entire electoral process appears like a sham, the epic showdown lacks lustre and takes its own sweet time to unravel as there are endless subplots and character introductions that distract us. Also, most characters somehow still feel underdeveloped even after two hours and twenty-two minutes of watching them onscreen.With frames- merging, dissolving, morphing, and disintegrating, the film transports you to its magical world with aplomb.
There are shape-shifting characters and others who walk through walls or teleport across countries.The film has all the tropes of its Universe – fantasy adventure with some superb production design and visual effects, seldom slowing down to explain the magic spells or strategies used by its characters, but unfortunately, the novelty and sheen seem to have worn out, and the intriguing factor missing.The only scenes that seem fresh and are enjoyable are the ones in which Jacob Kowalski is present, and apart from that, the scene where Newt rescues his brother from a species of scorpions in a panopticon-style prison tower, where they engage in a silly crab walk, you chuckle when Redmayne instructs his brother, “swivel, swivel but delicately”.The rest of the film is chaotic, with swelling music and random objects flying across the screen.