It has been over 10 years since the final Harry Potter film, The Deathly Hallows: Part 2, was released in theaters. While many fans have felt the absence of the franchise in the decade since, a spin-off series called Fantastic Beasts has done a decent job of filling the magical cinematic void.
The first film, which was released in 2016 and based on the guide book of the same name, was met with positive response from both fans and critics. Unfortunately, the 2018 sequel, Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald, was seen as a step back.
Now, the third movie promised more wild magic antics and a bigger focus on the backstories of popular Harry Potter characters. Before you head to the theaters to see Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore, let’s take a look back at the first two films and hope for a triumphant return to the Wizarding World!
The Story So Far in Fantastic Beasts
The first film in the franchise, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, is set in New York City circa 1926, over 70 years before the events of the Harry Potter franchise. The film follows the wizard and zoologist Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne), whose suitcase full of magical creatures is accidentally swapped with the suitcase of non-magic user Jacob Kowalski (Dan Fogler). When Newt’s magical creatures escape from the suitcase, Newt and Jacob meet with Tina, a law-enforcer of the magical world, as the three team up to recover the beasts.
During their adventure, they uncover a wild conspiracy regarding dark wizards and magically gifted children, resulting in a fight with blossoming magic-user Credence (Ezra Miller), encouraged by the evil wizard in disguise, Grindelwald (Johnny Depp).
While things seem fine for our core heroes after the events of the first movie, things get heated again as the sequel, Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald, kicks off. Set in 1927, the movie once again focuses on Newt Scamander and his ragtag group of allies, but expands the scope of the universe. As Grindelwald escapes from captivity, Newt and several other wizards are tasked with tracking down Credence, as many believe that he is a member of the Lestrange wizarding family.
Newt and his friends go on a globetrotting adventure to track Credence, as Credence searches for the truth behind his identity. Meanwhile, Grindelwald amasses a strong group of followers, believing that only wizards of pure-blood descent can stop a forthcoming war. At the end of the film, Grindelwald escapes along with Credence and his crew, forcing Newt to enlist the help of the iconic headmaster of Hogwarts, Albus Dumbledore.
What to Expect from Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore
Directed by David Yates and written by Steve Kloves, Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore was released earlier this month in theaters worldwide. As you might expect from the title, the movie puts a big emphasis on the character of Albus Dumbledore and digs deep into his complex backstory. This was a sensible move, as the franchise’s focus has shifted from the story of Newt Scamander to a larger tale of good versus evil, details of which were hinted at in the Harry Potter novels.
As seen in the end of the second film, Dumbledore and Grindelwald (now played by Mads Mikkelsen) made a blood pact in their youth that prevents them from dueling, effectively preventing the pair from facing off. In The Secrets of Dumbledore, Newt, Jacob, and a few new friends team up to help Dumbledore reverse the curse and help repel Grindelwald’s terrible plans for the magic world.
Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore tries to scratch that nostalgic itch for Harry Potter fans, with many scenes set in the wizarding school, Hogwarts. References and callbacks to moments from the Harry Potter films are aplenty, even as the stakes get higher and the action more intense.
In comparison to the first film, The Secrets of Dumbledore is far more serious, with visceral fights and dramatic reveals aplenty. That said, there’s still a pervasive tone of humor and wit, continuing the series’ whimsical atmosphere of wonder and magic.
We had been eagerly anticipating this third film and hope that it will bring the series back on track after the somewhat lackluster sequel. Despite some recast roles and production hiccups, The Secrets of Dumbledore provided a much-needed dose of magical fun!
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