Secrets of Dumbledore can’t save the Fantastic Beasts franchise
Set in the Wizarding World created by author JK Rowling, the same cinematic universe as the Harry Potter series, Warner Bros’ attempt at recreating the original’s success with the Fantastic Beasts movies has been a failure.
The Fantastic Beasts franchise is getting its third entry early next month. Titled Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore, the film continues the story of Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne), a younger Albus Dumbledore (Jude Law) and their allies in the impending war against dark lord Gellert Grindelwald (Mads Mikkelsen, taking over from Johnny Depp).
Set in the Wizarding World created by author JK Rowling, the same cinematic universe as the Harry Potter series, Warner Bros’ attempt at recreating the original’s success looks like a distant dream.
It is not even about the quality of the two films that we’ve seen so far — most will agree, though, that the second film is indeed pretty bad — the chief reason for the fans’ disillusionment is that the story that the series is telling is simply not appealing enough. But that is not the only issue that has plagued the franchise.
Why is Fantastic Beasts not as exciting as Harry Potter if it is set in the same world?
First, context. The Fantastic Beasts franchise is named after Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, a book that exists both in-universe and in reality. Written by Magizoologist (a wizard or witch who studies magical creatures) Newt Scamander, it was also released as an actual book by Rowling. The first Fantastic Beasts movie and the book share the name, and on paper at least Newt is the primary protagonist.
Played by Redmayne in his trademark dorky, shy way, Newt instantly charms, and is a refreshing change from the usual sci-fi/fantasy protagonists with their inflated abs and egos. A Hogwarts alumnus, the first film begins with him arriving in New York in the 1920s. But he is not as super-talented wizard like Harry Potter or Hermione Granger, although it can be argued that Rowling never intended for Harry to come across as super-talented in the first place. Newt can, however, hold his own in a confrontation, and he avoids violence wherever possible.
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His sole purpose of existence, it appears, is to care for and raise awareness about the magical creatures that reside in a pocket dimension inside his normal-looking suitcase. Are you a cat person or a dog person? Newt is a Niffler person. He knows the specific peculiarities and habits of probably each and every single magical creature known to wizard-kind.
And yet, as interesting a character as Newt is, he is no Harry Potter, whose very destiny was tied to the story’s primary antagonist, someone with whom he shared a yin and yang relationship with him. Newt does not much care for Grindelwald and his machinations, though we are told later that he was sent by Dumbledore himself. So while Newt is a person you would love to befriend in real life, in this story, it was probably not a good idea to make him the primary focus when everybody wants to see that titanic duel between Dumbledore and Grindelwald that the series is building towards.