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Review: 'Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore' lacks the fun of predecessors

Jude Law, Maria Fernanda Candido, Eddie Redmayne, and Callum Turner in "Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore."

Jude Law, Maria Fernanda Candido, Eddie Redmayne, and Callum Turner in "Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore." (Warner Bros. Pictures)

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THE MINISTRY OF MAGIC — After seven books, eight movies, a spin-off play, an entire theme park and two more movies, we can't seem to get enough of the wizarding world of Harry Potter.

That Hogwarts Express stuffed with box office cash is headed to theaters again this weekend in the form of the third installment of the "Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them" series, "The Secrets of Dumbledore."

The film picks up soon after the events of the second movie, "The Crimes of Grindlewald." This time around, however, we're going to pretend like the main villain wasn't Johnny Depp with spiky bleached blonde hair and a foggy eye. Mads Mikkelsen is now Gellert Grindlewald after Warner Bros. parted ways with Depp due to the actor's legal troubles.

Regardless of who's playing whom in the movie, I'm here to let you know if it's worth your time or not.

Here are some reasons "The Secrets of Dumbledore" is worth seeing to satisfy your curiosity but may not be worth the price of admission.

The spells that worked

Jude Law, Eddie Redmayne and Dan Fogler are worth watching

Overall the cast of "The Secrets of Dumbledore" is a strong one, but I think Jude Law, Eddie Redmayne and Dan Fogler are the standouts. While it's a little hard to believe Albus Dumbledore was once a suave and fashionable wizard when you remember he's always in his long robes, goofy hat and house slippers, I have to say I really like Law as the wizard.

Law encompasses the calm demeanor, kind presence and sincere heart we've come to expect from Dumbledore. The wizard is much younger and battling some personal demons here, but I think Law does the younger version of the character justice and was a fine choice for the role.

As for Redmayne and Fogler, this is their third rodeo with "Fantastic Beasts."

Redmayne's odd and quirky Newt Scamander is back with all the ticks and lack of eye contact. While some find this too strange, I still think it's a brilliant move. Newt is at home and most comfortable when he's around animals, not people. He also knows direct eye contact with a wild beast can be seen as aggression and there is no beast more fierce and wild than our fellow human beings. His quirks and oddities fit the character perfectly.

As for Fogler, he may be the best part of the movie. His Jacob Kowalski is a constant fish out of water in this world and he's so much fun to watch. His heart is broken in this latest movie, but he still adds much-needed comic relief and he is the most relatable character in the film.

We start to get some answers

The last two "Fantastic Beasts" films have been uncovering mysteries and more questions, but "The Secrets of Dumbledore" finally starts giving us some payoffs.

I don't want to give away any spoilers, but storylines involving Grindlewald, Credence Barebone and Dumbledore finally start unraveling, and most are satisfying to see unfurl. This isn't to say everything is wrapped up with a nice little bow when the credits roll, but we do start receiving some rewards for our patience with several storylines.

The charms that didn't work

It's missing the fun

I've always said that the "Fantastic Beasts" series has been the grown-up version of Harry Potter. That's not to say adults can't and haven't enjoyed Harry Potter, but these movies are a bit more grown-up. Even with that heavier tone, the movies have been a lot of fun.

The first film was full of laughs and excitement. The second movie took on a bit more serious tone but didn't lose all of the light-heartedness. This latest film has seemed to push any and all fun to the side and focus on the drama, which didn't work for me personally.

The stakes are higher in the third film; and while I understand the direction, the idea of wizards and witches casting spells and finding fantastic beasts seems like it should be a lot more fun than "The Secrets of Dumbledore" portrays it as.

There are some great and memorable moments in the film, but they are few and far between.

It's missing the extravagant world-building

The thing that sucked me into the first two "Fantastic Beasts" movies more than anything else was the incredible world-building. The ministry of magic, New York and London in the 1920s and the traveling circus grabbed me by the shoulders and threw me into this incredible world.

There are some cool new settings in this latest film like the German Ministry of Magic, but I felt like we missed out on the great world-building that has become a trademark of this series. I may have been expecting too much and taken the incredible sets for granted, but I wasn't whisked away in this one as I was in the others.

Should I go see it?

"The Secrets of Dumbledore" is my least favorite "Fantastic Beasts" film, but I don't know that it was all bad. As I mentioned, there are some bright spots, but I left the theater feeling a little let down.

If you've invested in the series up to this point, I think it's worth making one more trip to this world — but I don't know that you have to rush out to do so. My assumption would be that some of the die-hard fans will like "The Secrets of Dumbledore" much more than I did, but it left me reminiscing on the earlier films and the magic they brought with them.

"Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore" is rated PG-13 for some fantasy action/violence. Make sure to check back Friday for Dave Clyde's Parents Review of the film.

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John has grown up around movies and annoys friends and family with his movie facts and knowledge. He also has a passion for sports and pretty much anything awesome, and it just so happens, that these are the three things he writes about.


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