Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore is the third installment in this prequel franchise and hopefully it's the last. Still suffering from pacing issues, moody tones, and now a replacement actor for the main character, there is just not a lot of hope here unless someone brings the fun to this franchise once again. This third movie is a step in the right direction, but there's nothing more anyone can do now unless a total creative change is in place. The 4K picture looks wonderful with the Dolby Vision upgrade and the Dolby Atmos track is stellar. The bonus features are worth a watch as well. For Super-Fans Only.
Read our 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Review of Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore
The amazing wizarding world of Harry Potter officially ended with Deathly Hallows Part 2. The notion of a prequel with Fantastic Beasts sounded good in theory. But, its rote characters, bleak tone, and extremely slow pace made its first outing less than thrilling, void of any magic or fun that the original Harry Potter run had. Its sequel was even worse with an even darker tone and a much slower pace than its predecessor. This third film titled The Secrets of Dumbledore is a small step in the right direction, but the replacement of Depp by Mads Mikkelsen and its continued sloth pacing prevent any high-value entertainment from happening. Instead, this 2.5-hour movie only serves to wink at the muggles in the audience with its tiny bits of fan service from the original films and does nothing to really further the story.
More often than not, when the main character is replaced in a sequel by another actor, box office and critical praise go down. So is the case with Johnny Depp being replaced here by the impressive Mikkelsen. To make matters worse, Ezra Miller is still on bright display in this film, but judging by how poorly Secrets of Dumbledore did money-wise, this might be its last outing theatrically-wise, forgoing the next two planned sequels. Even though a young Dumbledore is saving the day in these movies, there are not enough thrills or fun to make these films appealing. Warner Bros. chose the dark path with these Fantastic Beasts movies and has added only one character to deliver some sort of comedic role or a small amount of charm. Otherwise, it's all about brooding and being moody for hours on end.
After The Crimes of Grindelwald, Mikkelsen who has replaced Deep is still attempting to take over the wizarding world and murder all muggles. He has to get his hands on a creature that will allow him to accomplish this feat, however, the young Dumbledore (Jude Law) and the returning duo of Newt (Eddie Redmayne) and Jacob (Dan Fogler) are running interference. While the villains and good guys battle it out, Harry Potter director David Yates continues to throw in some of those nods and clues that foreshadow the events of the previous franchise, which slowly bridges the gap between the two series. But again, The Secrets of Dumbledore is still too dark and brooding, casting an emo shadow over everything. Besides a couple of sequences with Dan Fogler, the movie takes itself too seriously and still manages to have some brutal death scenes.
Mikkelsen delivers an excellent performance in this magical world, but it's always difficult to switch out actors mid-way through a film series. Depp owned this role and his absence is felt, even though Mikkelsen does a great job. Law and Redmayne are stale, but that's only because these characters in this setting and tone don't offer much other than darkness and sadness. Yates allows for a couple of flashes of fun and magical thrills, but it's too little too late. The audiences have spoken and so have the critics. It's time to either completely reboot and recharge the next sequel or abandon this project altogether. Instead, pay the money out to make a sequel with the original cast coming back for a new threat. That at least has the potential for fun.
Vital Disc Stats: The Ultra HD Blu-ray
Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore casts its way to 4K + Blu-ray + Digital Code via Warner Bros. The discs are housed inside a hard, black plastic case with a cardboard sleeve. The artwork features a Phoenix in fire flying towards Hogwarts. There is an insert for a digital code as well.
Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore was shot in 4K and now is imported over with a 2160p UHD 4K transfer with Dolby Vision and HDR. The image looks great, although the tone and color palette of the film is dark and moody, so there are not a ton of bright pops of color here, even with the Dolby Vision upgrade.
The film is mostly steeped in grayish shades with vague and muted colors surrounding the wizarding world. Grays in the stone structures, streets, and dark hallways and caverns all look a bit darker here. There are some shades of green in the surrounding trees and some flashes of orange, yellow, and red in the wardrobe or magical spells that hit the screen. But again, these colors are also muted a bit. The Dolby Vision helps out with the black levels and darker shadows in low-light sequences by making it easier to see detail and other gray and blue colors. Other than that, this is a pretty straightforward bleak-looking movie with some effort of orange here and there.
The detail is sharp and vivid throughout the movie with closeups that reveal practical makeup effects, excellent textures in the wardrobe splinters in the wooden wands, and even stone detail in the walls. Freckles, individual facial hairs and pores, beads of sweat and blood, and feathers are easily seen as well. Wider shots never look soft but also come with a hefty amount of detail as well. With the Dolby Vision/HDR utilizing its full potential, these darker details come through nicely. Skin tones are a little muted as well, and the black levels are inky and rich with no evidence of crush or shadows. Lastly, there are no signs of banding, aliasing, or excessive noise.
This release comes with an exquisite Dolby Atmos track that falls in line with its previous release both in the Harry Potter World and the Fantastic Beasts realm. Sound effects are loud, and robust and offer up a wide dynamic range. Sounds of magic spells, explosions, and debris from stone and dirt all sound fantastic. Animal noises and people talking have the necessary reverb and balance with excellent directionality. The low end of bass come with a great rumble often with no rocky distortions.
The score always adds to the suspense and drama of the scene and the dialogue is always clean, clear, and easy to follow. The height speakers bring down debris, weather, and other screams from people on balconies and staircases. This is an energetic audio mix that consistently sounds wonderful. The track transfers to Dolby TrueHD 7.1 for those without the Atmos setup.
There are about 77 minutes of bonus material that include cast and crew interviews and some on-set footage on how they made the film. These are standard EPK type of featurettes but are fun nonetheless.
While The Secrets of Dumbledore is a small step in the right direction as far as tone and adding more fun to this franchise, it might be too little too late for any real change to happen. This is just a bleak, moody, and unfun prequel to something that was superb that came before it. Even the biggest Harry Potter fans aren't pleased. The 4K with Dolby Vision image and the Dolby Atmos track are both fantastic and the bonus features are decent. Ultimately this one is For Super-Fans Only!