The release of the newest Harry Potter franchise movie was one of the most anticipated films since its announcement. Not only was Johnny Depp fired as the series’ antagonist, but many fans took a stand against JK Rowling due to transphobic allegations against her. With gyrating crab walks, ultra high-waisted pants and muggles with wands, this Fantastic Beasts movie was undoubtedly different from the others.
Right off the bat, addressing the elephant in the room- did Mads Mickelson do Johnny Depp justice replacing him as Grindelwald? In the eyes of a diehard Potterhead, he did. Mickelson’s version of Grindelwald may have been more relatable as a man or more on par with the book’s description, but it was so far from Depp’s portrayal that they’re almost impossible to compare. Depp’s version was unruly, with different coloured eyes, an unkempt suit and hair standing straight on its ends. However, Mickelson’s look was very put together- so much so that he similarly resembled the German Minister for Magic.
While neither actor did a better job, and neither look was more attractive, Mickelson’s relationship with Dumbledore ultimately put him over the edge. Many fans found it nearly impossible to imagine Johnny Depp’s outlandish and eclectic look with Dumbledore’s (played by Jude Law), and Mickelson’s portrayal quenched that thirst. Moreover, the two men had chemistry sitting on the border of wanting to tear each other’s clothes off and rip each other’s heads off- exactly how it should have been. All in all, it just isn’t fathomable that someone with Law’s Dumbledore’s composure would be so close to Depp’s dilettantish Grindelwald.
The plot itself was creative and captivating, even if not very fitting to the other Fantastic Beasts movies. As many franchises do at some point, this storyline was much more political than any of its predecessors- which was unexpected, especially seeing that this movie is targeted toward kids. However, it was refreshing to have a breath of reality from the usual potions and broomsticks.
My only complaint is that it simply didn’t feel like Harry Potter. Politics, betrayals, and overall darkness aren’t unheard of in this series, but the intensity and spotlight they took were overwhelming. There were moments when it felt like the previous books and movies, but the majority seemed to be an entirely different story. That being said, it was still enjoyable to watch.
If I could give an award to The Secrets of Dumbledore for anything, it would be the writers and their sense of humour. From subtle remarks that I almost missed, to entire scenes dedicated to making the audience laugh, this movie had some spirit for everyone. My personal favourite scene was when Newt Scamander, the series’ protagonist, was doing a gyrating crab walk through the tunnels of a cave. Whether it was the seriousness of the scene accompanied by the ridiculousness of Newt’s dancing, I certainly wasn’t the only person cracking up in the theatre.
Altogether, this movie had wit, action, and passion and created a magical experience for its viewers. It’s definitely something I would watch again or recommend for anyone wanting a lively movie- provided their expectations are not to the excellent standard of the original Harry Potter movies.
Final O.W.L. Grade: Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore gets an Acceptable- demonstrating real magical potential.