Warner Bros., please put an end to this. The Harry Potter series was fun, to be sure. Eight films, all of which were well-received critically and commercially. The latter is an understatement, of course. Some $7.7 billion in worldwide box office receipts speaks for itself. But this Fantastic Beasts spinoff series is another thing entirely. Does anyone actually like them? The Secrets of Dumbledore has recently been issued on Blu-ray and it looks and sounds spectacular. If you’re a Fantastic Beasts fan (and I know you’re out there), there’s also a wealth of well-produced supplementary material.
So that’s it, essentially. Those who enjoyed Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (2016) and The Crimes of Grindelwald (2018)—no judgment, seriously, more power to you—don’t even think about it. Add Dumbledore to your collection. It’s just that I’ve now seen all three of these movies and I honestly can’t really say what any of them are about. Johnny Depp was in the first two and, due to his brief period of cancellation, he’s been replaced here by Mads Mikkelsen. The great Jude Law turns up here, slumming as one of the Dumbledore family, Albus. Great paycheck, I’m sure. And, of course, Eddie Redmayne returns as the main hero, Newt Scamander.
At this point, three films into the franchise, there’s a presold audience for it. I think this one made the least amount at the box office, though in the pandemic era it’s hard to gauge that sort of thing. When creator/screenwriter J.K. Rowling announced the series, I think Warner Bros. planned on something like eight or nine movies. Now Warner seems to be hedging its bets as I don’t believe they’ve officially greenlighted a fourth film. I don’t get the appeal, nor do I pretend to. The plot is a shambles, but admittedly the effects look cool.
The Blu-ray has no less than 11 short (all under ten minutes, most under five) featurettes covering everything from the Dumbledore family tree to effects breakdowns of various set pieces. There’s also a handful of deleted scenes, for those who consider themselves shorted by the interminable 142-minute feature film.