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Fantastic Beasts 3 review – visually impressive, but uneventful

Fantastic Beasts 3 may have all the technical wizardry we expect from a Harry Potter movie, but it is a lacklustre instalment in the franchise

Fantastic Beasts 3 review - visually impressive, but uneventful

Our Verdict

Jude Law is a shining light in an otherwise forgettable, yet technically well-made movie

The expansion of the Wizarding World has not exactly been a positive venture for Warner Bros thus far. There’s no disputing the fact that the original Harry Potter movies are some of the best and most popular fantasy movies to ever exist. However, with the Fantastic Beasts series, ironically, the magic appears to be wearing off. And with Fantastic Beasts 3, the franchise limps on with another lacklustre instalment.

David Yates returns to direct his seventh Harry Potter project, after helming the previous two Fantastic Beasts movies, and closing out the original series from 2007 onwards. Fantastic Beasts 3 stars Eddie Redmayne as protagonist Newt Scamander, and he is joined by Jude Law’s Albus Dumbledore, Dan Fogler as the muggle Jacob Kowalski, Callum Turner as Theseus Scamander, and Jessica Williams as Eulalie Hicks. Mads Mikkelsen joins the cast as the Harry Potter villain, Gellert Grindelwald.

I think it’s best to preface this review by addressing the obnoxious, narrow-minded elephant in the room here. It’s impossible to even think about discussing Harry Potter properties now without acknowledging JK Rowling’s very public, very harmful tirade against the rights of the trans community. Nonetheless, it’s important to be able to separate the art from the artist, and my opinions of Rowling’s despicable behaviour have not influenced my opinions on this film.

Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore, as you may have guessed, puts a pretty heavy focus on the younger version of Albus Dumbledore, and his familial and romantic relationships. With the nefarious Gellert Grindelwald seeking the destruction of muggles the world over, he looks to manipulate his way to the position of ruler of the entire Wizard World.

It’s up to Dumbledore, Newt Scamander, and their band of heroes, to stop Grindelwald from achieving his ambitions and destroying the peaceful co-existence of humans and wizards.

In the context of the wider Harry Potter universe, we are slowly but surely getting closer to where it all began over 20 years ago. There are Easter eggs and subtle references aplenty in this offering, which are sure to invoke a sense of nostalgia and familiarity for hardcore Potter fans. Thankfully, these are not on-the-nose at all, and don’t detract from the events of the movie.

In terms of the cast, it is Jude Law who shines brightest here as a young Albus Dumbledore. It could have been very difficult for the actor to take on such an iconic role and make it his own, but Law is warm, charming, and brings a fantastic energy to proceedings here.

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Opposite him, Mads Mikkelsen is typically brilliant as the latest iteration of Grindelwald. He is an engaging villain, with an absorbing and electric screen presence, but does Mads ever deliver anything less?

Eddie Redmayne leads the line, but lacks the required charisma to really endear the audience to him and make him a convincing protagonist. Dan Fogler is intended to be the comedic relief, but to be honest, most of his humour falls flat. And, the rest of the supporting cast are very much hit and miss.

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I wish I could really knuckle down on the narrative here, but sadly, Fantastic Beasts 3 does very little to move the story of the franchise forward. This is film three of five for the series, and it very much feels like the plan was to do the bare minimum to keep people wanting more from the next movie.

As with all the Harry Potter franchise, from a technical standpoint, this latest instalment is a wonderful achievement in visual effects, production design, and world-building. From the creature design of the new beast, the Qillen, to the epic wand battles and new locations, Fantastic Beasts 3 is definitely a treat for the eyes.

Despite this, ultimately, Fantastic Beasts 3 is rather underwhelming. The tepid narrative leaves this feeling like a non-event, the characters involved on the whole just don’t manage to capture the audience, and the series itself feels devoid of the excitement we have come to expect. While this is by no means a bad movie, it is a forgettable one.