Magical World of Politicking

Rescuing his brother, Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne) performs “limbic mimicry” on a group of tiny scorpion creatures. It’s adorable. Funny, too. Sadly, Secrets of Dumbledore has two additional hours attached to that sequence.

Often tonally lost and even confused, this messy sequel plods through tiring political machinations, mirroring the Nazi’s rise pre-World War II, if making specific links to Donald Trump’s spurious success in contemporary times (and not on accident). Leaders speak about, “peaceful transfers of power,” letting the obviously venal Grindelwald (Mads Mikkelsen) run for the magical world’s highest office as to not upset his cultish followers. The good people say nothing.

Secrets of Dumbledore fails to follow even baseline logic

Getting there means navigating sub-plots bunched up with other sub-plots, many unclear, including character motivations. Secrets of Dumbledore fails to follow even baseline logic, noting the people should decide their leader, yet letting the process happen via tradition, that of a magical animal dictating the rightful ruler.

Buried in this mix, Secrets of Dumbledore adds to Harry Potter lore; the title suggests as much. Beyond a hardcore fanbase, those surprises lack ferocity. Focus so clearly lies on the magical world’s ruling class, Dumbledore (Jude Law) turns into a bit player amid the numerous others.

It’s understandable the playfulness with the “beasts” seen in prior films dissipates – Secrets of Dumbledore aims darker, particularly in brandishing a warning about cultural divisiveness. For a series that began with Scamander, it’s rapidly lost him in a move toward visiting Hogwarts and those locations in the Harry Potter series. Only a handful of stories, and Fantastic Beasts quickly entered a descent into baseless nostalgia. That doesn’t serve the potential future movies well.

Stepping back, what’s here is less convoluted than Crimes of Grindlewald, yet even less entertaining. Magic fights look routine, the action wholly dull, and the pacing dismal. At this stage, Fantastic Beasts brushes up against the Star Wars prequels, only that space-faring franchise improved in each subsequent entry. Secrets of Dumbledore is moving in an opposing direction.

Video

Fine if rudimentary digital imagery fills this disc. Decent definition provides the requisite facial texture, but it’s fairly unspectacular. Greater sharpness happens within the wide shots of towns, castles, or forests. Those perform well, utilizing the format’s full resolution.

Graded similarly to the other Fantastic Beasts, bland orange/teal palette stiffens up, rarely deviating from this gloomy aesthetic. Flesh tones look mostly on point thanks to the warmth. Few primaries make it out from this firm style.

Color likewise impacts the dynamic range, keeping highlights cool, reduced from their potential peak. By design, black levels sag too, dropped to a low brown/gray that rarely leads to depth. Luckily though, Secrets of Dumbledore stays clean, free from most noise or other artifact.

Audio

An energetic Dolby Atmos mix does fantastic work when in the middle of action scenes. Surrounds and height channels engage frequently, panning effects excellent. Directionality keeps pace with the visuals, sweeping across the soundstage to create a wide, accurate sound bubble. Away from the spells and creatures, Secrets of Dumbledore doesn’t do much, overly centered, avoiding ambient material. Scenes with crowds falter, clumsily filling the theater, but without any potency.

Bass isn’t lacking, thankfully producing bold response alongside spells and their resulting effects. Each rumble sustains a thick, heavy jolt, pleasingly tight too. Moments of dread in the score likewise push the subwoofer. An attack by a giant scorpion-like creature can knock things off the walls as the stingers slam into rock walls.

Extras

On the Blu-ray only, 10 dull EPK featurettes, a promo for the stage show, and five deleted scenes (seven minutes worth) make up a generic bonus feature slate.

Fantastic Beasts: Secrets of Dumbledore
  • Video
  • Audio
  • Extras

Movie

Clumsily mixing childish humor with brutal real world politics, Secrets of Dumbledore continues this prequels series’ landslide.

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The following six screen shots serve as samples for our subscription-exclusive set of 56 full resolution uncompressed 4K screen shots grabbed directly from the UHD: