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Fantastic Beasts 3 Reviews Are In, See What Critics Are Saying About Newt Scamander's Latest Adventure

Jude Law as Albus Dumbledore in Fantastic Beasts 3.
(Image credit: Warner Bros.)

The saga of the Wizarding World continues! Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore — the third installment of the Harry Potter prequel series — is set to premiere in theaters on April 15. The film stars Jude Law as Albus Dumbledore, Eddie Redmayne as Newt Scamander, Ezra Miller as Credence Barebone, and Mads Mikkelsen as Gellert Grindelwald. Critics have had the opportunity to screen the franchise’s newest film, and their reviews are in.

Taking place several years after the events of Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald, Fantastic Beasts 3 will show Albus Dumbledore tasking Newt Scamander with a mission that will lead him and his allies into the heart of dark wizard Gellert Grindelwald's army. So, what did critics think about Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore? Will our questions about the great wizard be answered? Let’s take a look, starting with the CinemaBlend review. Our own Mike Reyes rates the film 3.5 stars out of 5, calling it the "best prequel yet" and saying this might be the one that gets the Wizarding World back on track:

Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore goes a long way towards righting the ship when it comes to the mixed bag of Wizarding World history. Addressing several of the flaws that presented themselves in the first movie, as well as its sequel, The Crimes of Grindelwald, the new film's script written by J.K. Rowling and newly returned co-writer Steve Kloves heads back in the direction of whimsy and danger that the Harry Potter films orchestrated. It couldn’t have happened a moment too soon. While it doesn’t totally correct the errors of The Crimes of Grindelwald, The Secrets of Dumbledore brings the feelings of magic, adventure, and fun back to the Fantastic Beasts series.

Siddhant Adlakha of IGN, however, has the opposite takeaway, rating The Secrets of Dumbledore a "Bad" 4 out of 10 and calling the third movie an un-fantastical Potter prequel with uninteresting secrets. Though two more Fantastic Beast movies are planned, this review argues the series should mercifully be ended here:

While Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore finally makes Dumbledore canonically gay, it does little else of note, remaining scattered across half a dozen inconsequential subplots for most of its runtime. It looks drab and feels like it was made by people who want to leave its magical premise behind, even though the series refuses to have anything resembling grown-up politics or perspectives.

Lovia Gyarkye of THR falls somewhere in the middle, saying that while this movie is more focused and more whimsical than its predecessors, it's no less disappointing. Behind-the-scenes drama involving Ezra Miller, as well as J.K. Rowling's views, make it hard for this critic to remain enchanted with the series:

Compared with the previous two films, Secrets of Dumbledore feels more like a Harry Potter film than a Fantastic Beasts one. While a few magical creatures make appearances — one is even central to Dumbledore and Grindelwald’s plans — they are by no means the anchor. This installment revolves around Dumbledore, a more interesting character than the series’ purported hero, Newt . That shift focuses the film’s narrative, but it doesn’t do much for those of us trying to figure out the purpose of the series.

Stephanie Bunbury of Deadline says there are a number of competing protagonists, some potentially meaty themes and, yes, fantastic beasts, but of everything that's happening in the Harry Potter prequel, not much of it makes sense:

Quite a few of these plot threads hang loose, making no sense. There was an entire chase sequence where I had no idea who was doing the chasing. That didn’t make sense either. But never mind. It’s the Wizarding World. It’s fun to be there, along with the lovely beasts. The fans love it. And perhaps that’s enough.

Peter Debruge of Variety commends the way J.K. Rowling envisions her story over multiple movies, planting things that will almost certainly pay off in a movie yet to come. However, the plots continue to be overly complicated, serving only to confuse audiences, he says:

That seems to be the key strategy of the Fantastic Beasts movies — which, incidentally, also serves what passes for magic in the real world: Distract the audience, so they don’t see the trick and are therefore fooled into believing things as they are presented. Somewhere along the way, however, this franchise stopped being fun. If the eight Harry Potter films left us wanting to enroll in that same school, the Fantastic Beasts series makes everything seem oppressive and unpleasant, teetering on the brink of a second Second World War

Kate Erbland of IndieWire grades Fantastic Beasts 3 a C, saying the film struggles to balance the magical whimsy with its adult themes. This results in feelings of discomfort even during the most magical moments:

The series’ third outing, Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore, falls into precisely the same traps as its predecessor, offering up an unwieldy, mostly unsettling mash-up of adult themes and childish whimsy, made still more inscrutable by too many subplots, too many characters, and a tone that veers wildly off-course at every possible turn. And while there are moments in which it seems to be settling into something cohesive, The Secrets of Dumbledore can’t ever crack the own mysteries at its core.

The critics may not agree, but we know fans of the franchise are excited to check the newest movie out, and the wait is almost over. Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore will arrive in theaters Friday, April 15. Be sure to check out our 2022 Movie Release Schedule to see what other films are coming soon.

Heidi Venable
Heidi Venable

Mom of two and hard-core '90s kid. Unprovoked, will quote Friends in any situation. Can usually be found rewatching The West Wing instead of doing anything productive.