Torn With Hate and Spells of Love: “Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore”

After a long wait, the Harry Potter franchise returns with their third in the series of five movies that occur before the “Harry Potter” films and books.

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Bill Smith via Flickr

On April 15, “Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore” hit theaters after a long awaited return of the Harry Potter franchise.

Nanaki Bawa, News Copy Editor, Outreach Chair

Contains spoilers. 

After three years, four months, and 30 days, Harry Potter franchise fans excitedly dug out their wizarding cloak, wand, and Time Turner to turn back to 1932 and experience the wizarding world through another lens. The third movie in the series, “Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore” displayed a precious collection of (new and old) magical creatures, ruthless antagonists, and fuzzy love stories.

The film was originally set to hit theaters earlier, but COVID-19 restrictions prolonged the filming process. Nevertheless, many fans were over the moon when the film premiered in American theaters on April 15, one week after the U.K. release.

Featuring big names including “Robin Hood” star Jude Law, “Les Miserables” star Eddie Redmayne, “Doctor Strange” actor Mads Mikkelsen, and “The Perks of Being a Wallflower” star Ezra Miller, the film brought the lowest opening weekend of any “Harry Potter” franchise film.

Additionally, many fans were disappointed with Johnny Depp’s absence from the film after he starred in the first and second movies of the series. He had reportedly begun filming for the movie, but Warner Bros Chairman Toby Emmerich ordered him to be removed from the film; Depp is currently suing his ex-wife, Amber Heard, American actress and activist, for $50 million on claims of defamation and loss of roles. Heard is also suing Depp $100 million for similar charges and the trial is currently being heard by a judge in Fairfax, Virginia.

Harry Potter fanatics were also confused by the lack of explanation for Grindelwald’s sudden appearance change. When the character was played by Depp, Grindelwald sported golden-blond spiky hair and different colored eyes; however, when the role switched to being played by Mikkelsen, Grindelwald seemed to have aged about ten years and had dark hair streaked with white and a very faintly golden eye. The absence of an explanation raises questions about whether this will be part of a plot line in future films.

The movie features a kindhearted magizoologist Newt Scamander and his long-time partners in crime: Jacob Kowalski, a muggle in love with one of the antagonist’s helpers, and Theseus Scamander, Newt’s brother and Ministry of Magic official. A new character is also introduced, Eualine Hicks, a Hogwarts professor. 

They are on a quest to save the world from the evil Gellert Grindelwald, who is accompanied by Vinda Rosier, a French pureblooded witch, and Queenie Goldstein, a mind-reading Legilimens who is in love with Kowalski. Credence Barebone, an orphaned young adult, hesitantly accompanies Goldstein and Grindelwald; he possesses an Obscurus, the uncontrollable and dangerous power of destroying all that comes in his way, so his assistance is greatly valued by Grindelwald.   

The cinematics in this and other action scenes outshine the other two films, including the Harry Potter series with new spells and types of magic displayed. 

Hogwarts teacher Albus Dumbledore meets with his former romantic interest, Grindelwald, in what is presumed to be a parallel universe where both cannot harm the other. Just after he finished his magic education, Dumbledore met Grindelwald and they fell in love and became madly determined to conquer both the magic and non-magic world, known as muggles; their love ran so deep that they made a blood pact, an unbreakable promise that said they both promise not to hurt each. 

However, now, Dumbledore is looking to fight Grindelwald and save the world from his evil ways; he must find a way to destroy the blood pact in order to duel each other. Disappointingly, this near-impossible task takes about two minutes for Dumbledore to solve — when they encountered each other, magic bounced off the surroundings and the blood pact’s deep red contents quickly faded because, according to Dumbledore, “[Grindelwald] sought to kill, I sought to protect.” This monumental event deserved more of a lead-up and explanation, which we can only hope for in the future films. With many plot lines left unfinished, it is believed that this detail was simply overlooked due to the last minute nature of the casting change. With the pact destroyed, Dumbledore is now free to plan and plot against Grindelwald and eventually face off against him in their famous duel.

At the same time, Grindelwald is seeking to be the next Supreme Mugwump of the International Confederation of Wizards, the highest position in the wizarding world. After he is surprisingly pardoned by the current administration, he secures the most votes after using the manipulated qilin to convince the rest. However, with various spells flying around, Newt manages to confront Grindelwald and a new leader, Vicencia Santos, is elected. After the fiasco, through a series of impressive spells and jumps, Grindelwald tries to escape. 

Throughout the movie, there are many disappointing scenes with not enough suspense and explanation provided for extremely important scenes. For example, in a one-minute conversation with his brother, Aberforth, Dumbledore quickly reveals Barebone’s true identity, a revelation that warranted more than this: “My brother fell in love as well with a girl from Bahar. She was sent away. There were ruins about a child Queen. He’s a Dumbledore.”

The movie closes with an intimate scene of Queenie Goldstein and Jacob Kowalski’s wedding at Kowalski’s bakery, Kowalski Quality Baked Goods in New York. After bumping into Jacob, Queenie is unable to stay away from him any longer and even jumps to save him when Grindelwald attempts to use the Cruiciatus curse, an unforgivable spell that causes great pain to the receiver. After waiting for a romantic development between these two lovebirds, many were relieved to learn they had finally tied the knot.

Compared to the first two films, “Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore,” apart from a brief scene between Newt’s romantic interest, Tina Goldstein, and the wedding of Queenie and Jacob, this movie lacked the more lighthearted tone apparent in the earlier films. Instead, it featured many dark moments with Newt’s acquaintances coming very close to death at the hands of Grindelwald and his followers.

The film full of uncertainty, friendship, and love was full of twists and turns, but left many questions up for interpretation which will hopefully be addressed in future films, including what Credence’s true name is, how Grindelwald escaped Newt’s team, and why Jacob was given a wand.

“Fantastic Beasts: the Secrets of Dumbledore” will be available to stream on HBO Max on May 30.