A decade ago franchise films ran at their own pace, and they were quite successful at that. They were building universes and making the audience wait for the next part, and they were delivering.
Now, with the expansion of streaming and OTT platforms, everyone is running a rat race. The basic objective of every producer and every studio now is to develop a formula that sells. In doing so, they try to run a dog in San Fermin.
Small profits are being earned and streaming business is flourishing but creativity unfortunately is losing its place in the race. I’m not suggesting to the slightest that these film franchises aren’t creative, they are. However, when you’re making a commercial blockbuster like franchise, you have to make sure there are commercial elements in the same, and if you’re adapting something out of an already established franchise, care is to be taken to retain the fanbase and invite new ones.
Some are successful, some fail horribly. The basis of judgment for that is the content itself as well as the type of talk it generates. Usually, nostalgia does the trick and I’m sure the nostalgia will make a fan’s heart happy, sure. How long can nostalgia hold up in a world full of carefully crafted cinematic universes?
The keyword here is “carefully.” Every current cinematic universe is being careful yet ending up being disappointing (maybe not at the box office or at the critics’ table). The quality of it all is deteriorating day by day to a point where a film’s ability to stand the test of time is as limited as its theatrical run. Sometimes even less. On the other hand, some films are simply… existing.
With that thought, the third installment in the “Fantastic Beasts” franchise, “Secrets of Dumbledore” finds its place in the Wizarding World as yet another fun adventure of the notorious Mr. Scamander, an interesting and charming magizoologist who is on his way to rescue a mysteriously beautiful new born creature called a “Qilin.”
The film tries getting political, which seemed interesting at first, but ends up being very bland with no interesting element to remember as such. Everything we experience here is already built up in the “Harry Potter” saga and, hence, there’s nothing new that was explored in the film. Even the action sequences felt very pale and lacking. The special effects were remarkable, but the action choreography wasn’t engaging at all. It just… happened.
The world still feels magical, even without any interesting additions. The beautiful cinematography and the score along with callbacks to the Potter legacy, like Hedwig’s theme, “three points to Hufflepuff,” and Dumbledore infamous wisdom quotes, are something that, as a fan, brings back the magical nostalgia from yesteryear.
The acting feels very consistent with the tone of the film. The serious characters like Mads Mikkelsen’s Grindelwald and Alison Sudol’s Queenie Goldstein felt living in the vibe, even though we know Queenie as a lively person. Mads probably is a better choice than Johnny Depp for Grindelwald but the character itself doesn’t feel menacing. Maybe if he flaps his hands a few times? (Pun intended).
Ezra Miller is the weakest character in the film. It feels as if he has a background story just to be included in the storyline in some way. Otherwise, I find Rowling’s Characters to be interesting. But Credence simply lacks what it takes to make a character interesting. The inner struggle isn’t at all something the studio should be wasting their big budgets on.
Newt and Jacob are the same old interesting characters. Newt is much more in the leagues of wise characters like Albus Dumbledore, while Jacob is more suitable with the likes of Queenie. I’d consider this as a truce for not having Harry Potter couple with Hermione in the “Harry Potter” saga.
Visual effects and CGI is very impressive and I love every time Newt holds one of his creature friends. I usually hold my puppies very delicately and seeing Newt do the same was satisfying. The night scenes were very well crafted. And even the “mirror dimension” like sequences. Loved those.
In conclusion, I wouldn’t call it a bad film but wouldn’t call it good or exciting either. The plot was predictable. The tonal consistency with no unnecessarily forced humor really made it watchable but, frankly, this franchise simply feels as if it’s milking off of the Wizarding World legacy. Five films (two more are on the way) are a drag. This could’ve and should’ve been done in three films at most.
Franchises don’t need to unnecessarily drag it like Marvel. They don’t even feel interesting anymore. This series would’ve been much more appropriate if it were made for HBO Max rather than the big screen. But nevertheless, a fun experience.
My rating for the film would be as follows.