The Secrets of Dumbledore - My Initial Thoughts
#1
Could not see this movie in the theater after all. So we watched it over streaming (HBOMax) this weekend.

We enjoyed the movie overall, but watching Mads Mikkelsen play Grindelwald was a bit jarring. My wife loves his movies but she was not happy that Warner Bros. gave the role to him (instead of continuing with Johnny Depp). Hollywood is funny about how it will hold itself to high moral standards while not always living up to them. We're only human, but people in high places don't make rational decisions about how to respond to all these scandals.

I don't know if Johnny Depp should play Grindelwald again. I enjoyed his performance, but he didn't define the character for me.

In fact, 5 actors have now played Grindelwald.

1. Michael Byrne played "old Grindelwald" in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1.
2. Jamie Campbell Bower played "young Grindelwald" in the same movie.
3. Colin Ferrell played Grindelwald (disguised as Graves) in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
4. Johnny Depp replaced Colin Ferrel when Grindelwald's identity was revealed
5. And now Mads Mikkelsen has taken on the role.

So it's not like, geeze, we've got to have Depp because no one else can play Grindelwald. He's got to be the most played character in the Harry Potter universe, in terms of actors who have taken on the role.

That said, Mads Mikkelsen just doesn't seem like a good match for the character. I think (for me) that's because he comports himself differently from Ferrell and Depp. He's the third guy to come along and play the character for a full movie - and that means the audience has to adjust its expectations twice after seeing Colin Ferrell's performance.

My patience is wearing a bit thin.

Michael Gambon is a fine actor but it took a couple of movies for me to accept him as Dumbledore only because Richard Harris had defined the role for me.

That said, Dumbledore has now officially been played by 4 actors in the Potterverse (Richard Harris, Michael Gambon, Tony Regbo, and Jude Law). It's easier for me to accept Jude Law as "younger Dumbledore" because he's younger. But the differences between his acting style and those of Richard Harris and Michael Gambon are pretty stark.

I think this is a problem for the whole franchise. The inconsistency in performances among key characters weakens everything, and maybe that contributes to some of the declining box office numbers.

Some people argue that the storyline in the 3rd Fantastic Beasts movie was rather weak. I don't believe so. I think it was an interesting plot and it kept us guessing on what would happen next.

The "Minerva paradox" is a bit jarring (Harry's Professor McGonagall is not yet supposed to have been born, in case anyone reading this is unaware of the paradox). But the character is not a big distraction for me.

This movie was pretty dark, and I think that's the deal with the whole "Fantastic Beasts" series. It starts out rather dark and more adult than Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (Philosopher's Stone in some parts of the world). We were introduced to Harry and his world through the eyes and experiences of children. The soundtrack was bright and cheery and people had time to adjust to the growing darkness over several films.

With "Fantastic Beasts", we just leap into the adult drama right away and despite the way everyone falls in love with Jacob Kowalski, he's still an adult dealing with adult problems. So I think if people are comparing these movies to the Harry Potter movies, they're being unfair.

This is a different story, with different characters, dealing with different challenges. And yet, maybe all the transitions and changes in character lineups are hurting the story. People were upset that Katherine Waterston got so little screentime in this movie. And it does feel a bit jarring not to see her for most of the film. From what I could find on the Web, she's not in trouble with the producers - she apparently just wasn't available for a full movie. So they had to diminish her role in the story.

Rather than excuse these issues, I accept they do weaken the movie. But I don't think they weaken it that much. It's still an enjoyable movie in my opinion and even though the franchise's future is in question (in part because of hostility toward J.K. Rowling and her views on gender roles), I'd like to see the 4th and 5th movies.

Let's stick with Mads Milkelsen. As I said, he's a good actor, but if there's another change in Grindelwald's character that will weaken the franchise more for me. And let's try to bring Tina back full-time.
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