“Fantastic Beasts: Secrets of Dumbledore” is a thoughtfully created, cinematic beauty

Albus+Dumbledore+%28Jude+Law%29+and+Newt+Scamander+%28Eddie+Redmayne%29+lead+the+team+of+wizards+in+their+quest+to+defeat+Grindelwald+%28Madds+Mikkelsen%29.+Fantastic+Beasts%3A+Secrets+of+Dumbledore+rose+in+popularity+among+audiences+with+a+collaboration+of+a+beloved+story+and+majestic+animation.+

Warner Bros. Pictures

Albus Dumbledore (Jude Law) and Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne) lead the team of wizards in their quest to defeat Grindelwald (Madds Mikkelsen). “Fantastic Beasts: Secrets of Dumbledore” rose in popularity among audiences with a collaboration of a beloved story and majestic animation.

By Audrey Tsai and Rebekah Park

A massive scorpion-like monster, a popular fascist leader (with an inexplicably good-looking love interest), election rigging and Newt Scamander’s iconic dancing come together in the Warner Brothers Studio’s latest magic trick, an enchanting dive into the past of a beloved and mysterious character: Dumbledore. “Fantastic Beasts: Secrets of Dumbledore,” the third installment in a five-movie prequel series to the original Harry Potter series, is a visually stunning film with a stunning plot. From Professor McGonagall’s brief cameo to the dining halls of Hogwarts, new and old fans will be delighted by the worldbuilding and complex development of wizarding lore.

The awkward but lovable protagonist Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne) shines alongside Albus Dumbledore (Jude Law) in their quest to defeat the wizarding criminal Gellert Grindelwald (Mads Mikkelsen), who seeks to wage a war between non-magical and magical people in order to take over both.

Although Newt Scamander is the protagonist of the series, it is clear that the plot revolves around Albus Dumbledore. While Scamander’s limited presence is a disappointment, the choice to focus on Dumbledore gives the film a sense of gravity missing from previous installments. The audience is acutely aware that failure would mean disaster not just for a city but for the world. With higher stakes and a clear, well-portrayed villain, the drawn-out tension of Grindelwald’s possible victory made the movie equally the villain’s story as much as it was the heroes’.

Unfortunately, Harry Potter author JK Rowling’s reputation has recently been under fire due to her controversial opinons about transgender individuals and lack of diversity in her books. This pervasive pattern in her books had the potential to overshadow the movie, but the hard work of the actors, producers and directors ensured that the film remedies critiques that Rowling refused to explicitly state Dumbledore is gay in her books. It’s made clear from the beginning that Dumbledore and Grindlewald had once been in a romantic relationship. Their complex affair is one of the more memorable aspects of the movie, giving Law and Mikkelsen a chance to flex their seasoned acting.

Running parallel to the actors’ emotional performances is the masterful cinematography, suspending reality by showing characters interact with truly fantastic beasts. Each creature is brought to life in a way that could only be dreamed of during the original series. Gone are lumbering and dead-looking mountain trolls; in their place, detailed and majestic qilins and dancing manticores take the screen. From the inquisitive eyes to the wispy tufts of fur, the CGI allows the personality of each creature to shine through in awe-inspiring displays of magic.

The film’s casual magic adds to an immersive experience for audiences. Moments such as Dumbledore pulling random objects out of a hat or walking through a stone wall are treated with such nonchalance that it’s easy to forget that these events aren’t commonplace.

That’s not to overlook the flashier yet equally breathtaking spells cast during climactic moments. With advanced choreography and quick footwork, the barrage of spells transform the fight scenes into dances with death — in a morbid way, it’s impossible to look away. The beautiful attention to detail almost made us consider a remake of the Harry Potter series in 2022. Almost.

Amid the dynamic whirl of action sequences, Rowling’s message is hard-hitting. The film throws subtlety entirely out the window: From the blatant xenophobia of Grindelwald’s followers to election rigging, Rowling’s story does not attempt to hide the movie’s social commentary. She stresses the need to believe and fight for truth in a world of lies, calling for all to take the “right way,” not “the easy way.” While the message is fitting, Rowling’s previous, questionable actions in her preachy plot makes the social and political critique occasionally inauthentic – such as writing Nagini, an Asian character who struggles to maintain human form and becomes the literal pet of neo-Nazi Voldemort.

Ultimately, “Secrets of Dumbledore” provides what made the original Harry Potter series so magical: the opportunity to escape from a mundane world into a fantastical one. Despite hiccups in the storytelling and overly blunt social commentary, the movie succeeds in delivering a strong continuation of the original series. In the face of breathtaking magic, the same sense of wonder that attracted millions of fans never does seem to fade.

This story was originally published on The Talon on May 16, 2022.