Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore

Disclaimer: I’m not going to go into the author’s personal statements about… things. I’m only going to talk about the on screen material.

In anticipation of the new movie coming out, I’ve just finished a ten movie marathon of the entire franchise. I hadn’t seen the HP movies since they came out a decade ago and had a really great time re-experiencing them. I haven’t read the books in all that time either. I was particularly impressed with the final movie. It really was a great and epic finale to a long form story. I’ve never seen all the movies back to back like that before; watching the actors age and the tone shift darker in ‘real time’ was very interesting.

I’m one of the few people who seems to actually enjoy the Fantastic Beasts movies. I think it’s fascinating to see a new epic tale in the Harry Potter franchise starring adults at the height of their power rather than children. Even more importantly, I am dying to see the war between Dumbledore and Grindelwald, undoubtedly the most fascinating piece of backstory in the franchise.

They’re not perfect, of course. The first movie was a little too “enchanting prelude” for my tastes, and the second movie threw way too many new characters at the screen who ultimately weren’t that important. Hell, a sizable chunk of the movie’s runtime concerns the past of Leta L’estrange… who gets unceremoniously killed at the story’s end.

The third movie was definitely more epic and plot-important than the first two, though it still wasn’t quite a home run. I definitely enjoyed the greater focus on Dumbledore, and Mads Mikkelsen is a vastly better Grindelwald (though I would have preferred Colin Ferrell’s return).

FULL MOVIE SPOILERS BELOW

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I was surprised to find the movie’s ending functioned as a semi-resolution to the series. Perhaps they’re concerned it will tank and they’ll never make the last two. It obviously doesn’t resolve the Grindelwald war, but it does wrap up all the character arcs for everyone. Hell, you could never show Creedence again and it would function just fine.

My greatest complaint is that Tina Goldstein is relegated to a small cameo. She’s my favorite new character after Newt! Was there some actor availability issue???

We learned a lot about DD and GW and it made me run right home and re-read the relevant chapters from the 7th book. I found some interesting inconsistencies:

Rita Skeeter’s book says DD and GW do not see each other between age 18 and their final duel in 1945. Now obviously anything she says could be false, but Ghost-DD tells Not-Quite-Dead-Harry that he was terrified of facing GW again and only did so to save the world, because he was terrified of learning who actually killed Ariana, which does imply they did not meet in between.

In the book, DD says that he and GW were the ones casting spells in the argument with Aberforth, and one of their spells is what killed Ariana. In this movie, DD says that he and Aberforth were the ones casting spells and GW just sat there and laughed.

The book of course does not mention a blood bond, Creedence, or an obscurius. I did think making Ariana an obscurius was a great plot twist and entirely consistent with the established lore. It’s a perfect explanation for why she was “weak” and “sick” and kept away from anyone else ever seeing her! It also explains her accidental death, she would already be on death’s door and the slightest trauma could cause the dark spirit to consume her.

Another interesting tidbit; the book says GW got the Elder Wand sometime between age 18 and 1945. According to movie trivia I read, GW already has the Elder Wand in the second movie.

I dearly hope we get to see the final two movies because I really want to see this legendary duel between DD and GW.

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