Piako Post

Fantastic Beasts a plodding mess

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Four years is a long time between instalment­s. And since 2018 – here comes the understate­ment of the day – a few things have happened.

Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore is arriving in our cinemas fully two years after intended.

Which might explain why I spent much of this morning trying to remember who was who, what their beef with each other might be, and – most importantl­y – why I should care.

And sitting down to write this, half-an-hour after a scantly attended Thursday session, I’m still not sure.

Had Dumbledore arrived in 2020, then maybe the residual momentum of the 2018 The Crimes of Grindelwal­d would have propelled this new film along from the get-go.

But Dumbledore starts off slow, sputters occasional­ly into life, but never really threatens to become an engaging – or particular­ly entertaini­ng – film.

We pick up the story in the forests of Bhutan.

Our hero Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne) is there to supervise the birth of some sort of magical deer-like beastie, which has the power to see into the future. (Don’t laugh. I once had a chicken that could do the same thing. It’s a long story.)

But, the forces of naughtines­s intervene – as the forces of naughtines­s are wont to do – and the precious fauna is whisked into the arms of the evil Grindelwal­d – here played by Mads Mikkelsen.

Soon enough, the youngish and dashing Dumbledore (Jude Law), the bumbling Newt, his handsome big brother and sundry other good types are in league against Grindelwal­d and his various hench-persons. Who – no, bear with me – are attempting to subvert democracy and steal the upcoming election of a new chief wizard. Or something.

And, if ‘‘electoral theft via psychic deer’’ doesn’t sound to you like a promising storyline for a rip-roaring family adventure, you’d be in good company.

Put bluntly, The Secrets of Dumbledore is a plodding mess.

Writer J.K. Rowling – she wrote the script herself – is obviously very invested in her world and the characters she has populated it with.

And that’s a great thing. I love to see a creator who cares passionate­ly about their creation. The only problem is, many of us who live in the world outside of Rowling’s head might not care – or even remember – who these people are, or why everything they say should be quite as fascinatin­g as it clearly is to Rowling.

This is a film in which various players engage in long bouts of conversati­on, refer to past events and make sundry injokes, all of which must be fun for the true-believers and Rowling obsessives.

But for us Muggles who just wanted to have a bit of fun watching this latest iteration of the Potter universe, Dumbledore is a snooze.

The action sequences, when they arrive, are absolutely fine. But the tracts of exposition and world-building in between are just not engaging, while the pillaging of pre-war Nazi Germany for imagery and storylines just seemed misguided – at best.

After a while, I found myself admiring the cinematogr­aphy, marvelling at the ever-present CGI and enjoying the myriad details that returning director David Yates has packed into every frame. I even found myself enjoying the styling and the costuming – and mentally making a note to find myself a vintage three-piece suit, as I noticed just how well Mikkelsen, Law, Redmayne and co. all scrub up here. What I was not doing was being swept along by the storytelli­ng.

Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore is a beautifull­ooking and sounding film, being performed by an extraordin­ary cast and directed with some real visual flair and panache. It also very nearly put me to sleep.

Unless you are already a huge fan of this franchise and have been counting down the days until Dumbledore arrives, you may well feel the same.

❚ Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore is now screening in cinemas nationwide.

 ?? : SUPPLIED ?? Eddie Redmayne and Jude Law return in Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore.
: SUPPLIED Eddie Redmayne and Jude Law return in Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore.

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