In theory, “Little Dumbledore” would address some of Fantastic Beasts’ shortcomings, providing a more dynamic anchor than the timid and stoic Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne). On top of that, Rowling added more help on the A-list this time around, collaborating not only with director David Yates but also co-writer Steve Kloves, a veteran of the Harry Potter series.
Since Dumbledore cannot face Grindelwald and his minions head-on, he must recruit not only newts, but an eclectic group of wizards and wizards, as well as Newt Mogul Pal Jacob (Dan Vogler). But other than Jessica Williams’ bolstering role as Eulalie (Lally) Hicks (which has a ’40s gangster accent that takes some getting used to), it’s a rather nondescript group.
Above all, the latest “Fantastic Beasts” movie unfolds without much sense of urgency, sending the gang on a series of adventures and detours toward a predictable showdown to thwart Grindelwald’s plans.
Having played villains in James Bond, Marvel, and now Harry Potter films, Mikkelsen presents the villain’s credentials to the Hall of Fame, and when he taunts, “With or without you, I’ll burn their world,” he offers a sense of threat that trumps everything else in the film. .
Commercial judgment aside, the creative person presents another mixed bag that elicits enthusiasm for more, blocking promises of better pace and enhancing the role of law in a more specific way.
“Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore” was released in US theaters on April 15. It is rated PG-13.