By Luke Fitzgerald
“Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore” is a movie full of hidden motives, magic and double crossing. Like much of the saga, the film is a mixture of flight and complex drama. This movie, which officially released on April 15, is a continuation of a saga which started with “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.”
The saga takes place in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, conceived and written by JK Rowling. These additional stories follow the adventures of Newt Scamander, the world’s top, (and only) magizoologist. They take place before the Harry Potter series, when Albus Dumbledore was a comparatively young man with an average sized beard just beginning to gray.
The main conflict in the story is between Dumbledore, the master of Hogwarts, and an extremely powerful wizard, Grindelwald, an evil wizard who wants to destroy all the muggles (non-magic people.) The story is complicated by Dumbledore and Grindelwald; former homosexual relationship when they made an unbreakable blood pact. As a result, they physically can’t fight each other. The whole movie is a series of standoffs between the followers of the two wizards until the very end.
Aside from this complicated relationship, there are many other aspects of this film that distance it from the fun, childhood stories of Harry Potter. “Fantastic Beasts” seems to be made for an older audience. Even the title hints at a mystery behind Dumbledore. This head wizard isn’t the protagonist of the film, but he is very much a background father figure like in the Harry Potter movies.
Still, the film tends to highlight his weaknesses, trying to place him in between who he was as head wizard and a new characterization of a muddied hero. It’s as if someone were to write a backstory for Gandalf and give him a complicated relationship with Sauron. That sense of mystery contributes to the character, and when taken from him, it makes him seem like less of an upright character.
Overall, Secrets of Dumbledore is an exciting movie with a few hilarious scenes and all sorts of fantastic beasts. It’s worth a watch for those familiar with the saga. But with all the work the film has to do in resolving the conflict, there’s not much room to explore the questions raised in the film and develop its themes.