2021 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. All Rights Reserved / Jaap Buitendijk
+++ Opinion with spoilers at the end of the film +++
Warner’s plan to expand the flimsy, fictional textbook Fantastic Beasts into a film franchise faltered just two years after it was launched. In 2018, the theatrical receipts for the second part » Grindelwald’s Crimes » fell short of the film studio’s expectations. Apparently, an attempt was then made to give the third film a better story, in any case in 2019 the start of shooting was postponed by several months (and then the actor playing the villain Grindelwald was also exchanged, since Johnny Depp was fired because of his scandalous lawsuit against his ex-wife Amber Heard was no longer acceptable in the eyes of Warner).
» Fantastic Beasts 3: Dumbledore’s Secrets » is now clearly to be noted that the series, which was originally designed for five parts, could already have come to an end if no further films were to be produced. This is particularly evident in the hasty finale — which also proves that it wasn’t the best of all ideas to knit an essentially political story around cute, magical creatures, of all things, that have to appear in the plot on Voldemort come out .
Dumbledore and Grindelwald: A not-so-solid magical bond
The former lovers of Hogwarts boss Albus Dumbledore ( Jude Law ) and black magician Gellert Grindelwald (new: Mads Mikkelsen ) entered into a magical union in love-drunk, youthful exuberance that prevents the two from ever being allowed to fight each other. Apart from the quite interesting metaphorical meaning of this bond, the primary function of this plot idea was to provide an explanation as to why Dumbledore does not go against the dark magician Grindelwald himself and instead has friends like the zoologist Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne) (who, for some reason, had been made the main character of the «Beasts» series).
However, in the final battle of Fantastic Beasts 3, the magical bond between Dumbledore and Grindelwald quickly becomes meaningless.
Albus and Gellert are finally able to fight each other after all and eagerly shoot each other with magic rays after the formerly oh so solid blood oath in the form of the vial burst when two magic spells collided. After the duel, Albus explains to Newt, who is taken aback by this turn of events and who takes on the role of the audience here, that it was all somehow fate. He and Grindelwald were forbidden from attacking each other, but initially he only defended the attacked Credence (Ezra Miller) against Grindelwald (at this point Dumbledore probably regrets that he didn’t look at the small print of the pact beforehand, because he wouldn’t have done it anyway also to count every attack on the dangerous dark magician Gellert as a defense of the free world?).
As is so often the case, the real explanation for why the duel is now possible should lie in considerations that have nothing to do with the actual plot. Probably both the studio and the creative team around director David Yatesclear that «Fantastic Beasts 3» could already be the end of the series if the cinema receipts again do not live up to expectations. So there had to be a fight between Albus and Gellert (which, while not the fabulous 1945 duel described in the Potter canon, is at least something). The only thing missing was the time to laboriously break the magical bond – that is to say: as the climax of another film, where perhaps some anti-magic has to be found. The situation is similar with Credence aka Aurelius Dumbledore ( Ezra Miller ).
Credence alias Aurelius Dumbledore: Now close the sack quickly
While Aurelius shares the hairstyle and angry expression of Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) from the «Star Wars» sequels, his return to the light only takes a few scenes in just one film, unlike his Star Wars counterpart. Albus Dumbledore only has to take care of the misguided boy, who is revealed to be the son of Aberforth Dumbledore, and protect him from Grindelwald in the final battle, and then Aurelius will have calmed down and arrived on the side of good and justice.
Even Queenie ( Alison Sudol ), who at the end of the second film had only just joined Grindelwald’s entourage, needs little more than a fond memory of the good old days with her Jacob ( Dan Fogler ) for her to recognize her mistake and can become his bride — as if nothing had happened, as if she had not just recently sided with the wizard version of Adolf Hitler.
Magical deer aka Quilins and big politics don’t mix
If the resolutions of «Fantastic Beasts 3» described so far are just twists, which are told in a clumsy way, but do not cause much damage on their own, the whole number with the magical deer (officially they are called Qilins ) is an expression of one completely failed combination of fantasy and politics. Because Warner decided to use a fictional Hogwarts textbook about magical beasts of all things as the starting material for a «Harry Potter» prequel, which is about political struggles in the hidden world of wizards, «Fantastic Beasts 3» are also All sorts of creatures are squeezed into the storyline and the most important role — especially at the end — is played by two Qilin fawns.
Since qilins have the ability to see into people’s souls, they are used to select the most suitable candidate for the election of the new head of the international wizarding community. Conveniently, two of these rare beasts are born at the beginning of the film, and Gellert Grindelwald was able to snag one, kill it, and use it as a spell-rigged zombie quilin to reassure the wizarding crowd assembled in the finale that he was the best candidate.
This plan is thwarted by Team Dumbledore at the last second and the magic deer who is still alive decides on a candidate from Brazil ( Maria Fernanda Cândido ), who, unlike Grindelwald, does not want to start a war with the Muggles.
Undemocratic message at the end
Whether it’s funny or cute, the power bestowed upon such a fragile creature as a magical little deer. Maybe there is also a statement about the underestimated wisdom of animals and maybe the Qilin is just the «Potter» version of an oracle, which can take on very different forms in the world of legends. Unfortunately, the visionary abilities of the Quilin are combined with a message that is undemocratic without being problematic as such.
In the world of «Harry Potter», the international wizarding community apparently only decides democratically about its new boss until a magical deer is at hand that actually takes over this decision. After the animal has decided against Grindelwald in the final, this choice is directly accepted by the voters. It is part of the very essence of a democracy that all voters should take on the strenuous work of finding out for themselves who is best suited for an office.
But the breakup with the Quilin is not only undemocratic, it also downplays the anti-democratic orientation of fascist movements like that of Grindelwald.
For when the magical deer showed the assembled crowd that Gellert Grindelwald was incapable of leading the international wizarding community, Grindelwald’s cheering crowds seemed to be convinced of the same. A crowd that was obviously fanatical just a moment ago has suddenly been converted? One could interpret this interpretation of the makers of “Fantastic Beasts 3” as somehow amiable naivety if the real world did not offer enough examples of the fact that the supporters of dictators, authoritarian rulers or populist politicians do not change their minds so easily – even facts have no influence on it.
The loyal followers of Donald Trump, for example, believed their leader, who lost the 2020 election, that this vote had been rigged and some of them stormed the Capitol in January 2021. Against the backdrop of such events , the ending of Fantastic Beasts 3: Secrets of Dumbledore seems less like a dreamy political utopia and more like an ignorant and belittling reverie.
For the official FILMSTARTS review, my colleague Annemarie Havran naturally also dealt with the rest of “Tierwesen 3” in addition to the ending and came to a rather positive verdict overall. You can read the review here:
FILMSTARTS review for «Fantastic Beasts 3»