- Warning: Spoilers ahead “Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore.”
- A plot point involving Newt’s briefcase feels ripped from “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.”
- The slightly altered plot device feels like lazy writing, recycling old material for new audiences.
“Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore” is definitely better than the last film, but fans will undoubtedly groan over some derivative writing that feels plucked straight from the final “Harry Potter” book in the seven-book saga.
In “The Secrets of Dumbledore,” in theaters now, Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne) rallies together a ragtag group of witches, wizards, and one non-magical muggle to thwart Gellert Grindelwald’s (Mads Mikkelsen replacing Johnny Depp) plans to start a wizarding war.
The convoluted plan to take down Grindelwald involves Newt’s assistant, Bunty Broadacre (Victoria Yeates), taking Newt’s magical suitcase to get duplicates of it made.
If you’re a big Potter fan, this scene may have given you pause.
Surely, “Fantastic Beasts” wasn’t about to replicate the famous scene from “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows” in which the Order of the Phoenix (a group of Dumbledore loyalists consisting of Harry, Hermione, Ron, and several others) drink Polyjuice potion, which allows a person to morph into another, in order to disguise themselves as decoy versions of Harry to cause confusion for the franchise’s villain, Voldemort.
But that’s exactly what they do.
Late in “Secrets of Dumbledore,” another group of Dumbledore loyalists — the first iteration of Dumbledore’s Army — gathers together in Hogwarts’ Room of Requirements (the famous room where Harry and Dumbledore’s second army would gather to defeat Voldemort years later). Several copycat briefcases fill the room alongside Newt’s real one.
No one knows which is the real one, containing a “fantastic beast” Grindelwald desires to capture.
Similar to “Deathly Hallows,” Newt’s group disperses and hopes to cause confusion among Grindelwald and his allies. The only difference between the scene in “Fantastic Beasts” and the original “Harry Potter” books and film is that no one knows who holds Newt’s real case. In “Deathly Hallows,” everyone knew which Harry Potter was the real one.
Still, for those who grew up with “Harry Potter,” this reused plot device feels lazy.
If you’re a Potterhead, the reveal is so painfully predictable early on that it’s frustrating.
It will probably make fans wonder whether or not franchise creator JK Rowling herself wrote the material. And it’s a fair question. According to the film’s credits, “Secrets of Dumbledore” is based on a screenplay by Rowling that was then cowritten by Rowling and producer Steve Kloves, who wrote every film in the “Harry Potter” franchise.
That’s in contrast to the past two “Fantastic Beasts” films, which have solely been written by Rowling.
The briefcase scene would be almost forgivable if another scene soon afterward didn’t feel like a lesser replication of one of the franchise’s most iconic scenes, also from “Deathly Hallows.”
An emotional moment between Credence (Ezra Miller) and a family member (we won’t spoil that reveal but go ahead and click the link if you want to know) is an obvious nod to Snape’s death scene in the earlier film.
No one dies in the “Secrets of Dumbledore” sequence, but the exchange of dialogue, ending with the word “always,” feels like such a forced reference to “Harry Potter” that the words ring hollow here instead of acting as a sweet nod to the former franchise.
Both moments may make fans wonder why Rowling and Warner Bros. ever thought they could stretch the thin source material of a “Harry Potter” dictionary (yes, “Fantastic Beasts” is a glossary) into a five-film franchise if they’re simply going to recycle old material and try to pass it off as new to fans if Rowling is out of fresh ideas.
Perhaps its best that WB is reportedly waiting to see how “Secrets of Dumbledore” performs before carrying on with the saga.