Part three of J K Rowling’s five-part Harry Potter prequel continues the story of the two previous features which pit the magic world against the muggle (non magical/human) world. The franchise, inspired by a text book seen in The Philosopher’s Stone, is set in various periods – this one in the 1930s with locations in Germany, Brazil and Tibet.
Newt Scamander (Redmayne), our hero magizoologist (a wizard who studies magical creatures) attends to the birth of a rare qilin, a kind of deer/dragon cross, which he plans to fetch back with him only to be foiled by dark magic. Meanwhile, Professor Albus Dumbledore (Law) and dark wizard Gellert Grindelwald (Mikkelsen) are at dangerous odds with Grindelwald prepared to stop at nothing to win an upcoming election. To save both muggles and the magical world, Dumbledore drafts Scamander and a crack team of witches, wizards and one muggle to defeat Grindelwald’s supremacist cause.
Scamander’s adorable familiars such as Teddy, the platypus-like niffler and the Groot-styled bowtruckle Pickett, along with Scamander’s brother Theseus (Callum Turner) and high witch Elulalie Hicks (Jessica Williams) are all present for adventures and derring-do. Broken-hearted as his love Queenie (Alison Sudol) has been coerced by Grindelwald, big-hearted muggle baker Jacob Kowalski (Dan Fogler) is back and this time given his own wand. In the background is Dumbledore’s taciturn brother Aberforth (Richard Coyle) and Credence (Miller) who share a secret.
While the duel between Grindelwald and Scamander’s dedicated group is the story’s pivot, the heart of the film belongs to Fogler and Sudol, two lovers who cannot be parted, and their story is another example of J K Rowling’s powerful imagination and playful nature in full flow. Like a steampunk Transformers movie, don’t worry if you can’t keep up with everyone and everything: it all will be clear in the end.
With such a starry, capable cast and director David Yates’ steady hand, the visual effects, production design, costume and props are as imaginative as ever. It packs a lot of action in its 2 hour 22 running time and there’s not a moment you’ll want to miss, and despite the longish running time, the minutes will fly by.
Is Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets Of Dumbledore suitable for kids? Here are our parents’ notes...
Like the Harry Potter films, there are some very dark moments that may not be suitable for younger (under the age of nine) or more sensitive viewers. In fact, the beginning of the film rivals Bambi, so be prepared.
The movie has a 12A certificate in the UK for scenes in which characters are under threat from dark forces. No characters are killed but there is moderate fantasy threat and brief bloody images.
One scene also features a creature having its throat slit.
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