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Fantastic Beasts The Secrets of Dumbledore first reviews praise Mads Mikkelsen’s ‘simmering intensity’, criticise ‘nonsensical’ narrative

The review embargo for Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore has lifted, and initial reviews praise the film as an improvement over its immediate predecessor, but are still dubious about the need for a Harry Potter spinoff series. The Secrets of Dumbledore is the third film in the Fantastic Beasts franchise, following Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them and Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald.

With a 60% ‘fresh’ score on the review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, The Secrets of Dumbledore has fared slightly better than the second film, which has a 36% score, but is lower than the first movie, which has a 74% score. The site’s consensus reads: “Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore avoids some of the pitfalls that plagued its predecessor, but lacks much of the magic that drew audiences into the wizarding world many movies ago.”

All three films are directed by David Yates, who also directed the last four films in the Harry Potter series. And after writing the screenplay for the poorly received second film in the Fantastic Beasts franchise, JK Rowling had help from long-time Potter scribe Steve Kloves on this film.

Critics also praised Mads Mikkelsen’s performances as Gellert Grindelwald. Mikkelsen took over from Johnny Depp after the actor was asked to resign following his legal difficulties. It’s important to note that Ezra Miller, who will also star in Warner Bros’ upcoming The Flash movie, has been retained despite numerous run-ins with the law.

“Someone break out a real wand and put a spell on this series. It needs all the help it can get,” IndieWire’s Kate Erbland wrote. “It’s good-natured entertainment, though there is still something weightless and formless about the narrative,” the Guardian’s Peter Bradshaw countered. Kevin Maher of the Times wrote, “Mikkelsen’s simmering intensity adds a new layer of menace to the character but also suggests a credibly torrid romantic history with Dumbledore.” Polygon’s Charles Bramesco wrote, “An evident attempt to right the ship has turned into a calamitous case of mission drift, as a property with no identity travels in nonsensical circles, looking for a sustainable new direction.”

Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore stars Jude Law, Eddie Redmayne, Alison Sudol, Dan Fogler, Callum Turner, Jessica Williams and others. The film arrives in Indian theatres on Friday, a week ahead of its US debut.

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