Early on in Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore, one of our wizarding leads assures their compatriots that "the best plan is no plan."
While that statement proves important to the plot of the film, it also seems to describe the strategy behind the entire Fantastic Beasts franchise:
Take a book tangentially related to Harry Potter, spin it into a series of five (or possibly only three) films, worry about the details later.
The resulting movies are bloated slogs. As if that weren't enough, the films are also bogged down by external controversies, including actor scandals and author J.K. Rowling's transphobic remarks.
The Secrets of Dumbledore falls into many of the same pitfalls as its successors. There are too many characters and subplots.
The story hinges on not one but two magical MacGuffins. And throughout it all, you can sense the desperation to recapture the magic of the much better movies Fantastic Beasts originated from.
The performances remain committed; there are some genuine laugh-out-loud moments; and Mads Mikkelsen's Grindelwald is an upgrade from Johnny Depp's.
Unfortunately, these more enjoyable elements tend to get lost in the intellectual property sauce, and you'll leave The Secrets of Dumbledore more bewildered than bewitched.