Here are our thoughts on this mixed bag of a film franchise.
With 'Harry Potter' taking a back seat, it's up to Eddie Redmayne's Newt Scamander to carry the 'Fantastic Beasts' franchise trundling onwards. But, has the magic gone out of the Wizarding World? Or, more importantly, was it ever there to begin with?
Allow us to take a look at the three films that have - as far as we can see - been plagued with issues since day one.
Getting Eddie Redmayne on board was a stroke of genius. His character is awkward, geeky and likeable - and Redmayne pulls it off. But he's not the problem here, nor is it any of his colleagues. The problem, yep we're going to go there in part one of our essay, is how undiversified the cast is. It's a fact that all of the main characters in 'Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them' are white. Carmen Ejogo as President Seraphina Picquery and Gemma Chan as (blink and you'll miss her) Madam Ya Zhou were the only diverse cast members, both only on the screen for a few mere minutes.
The second release 'The Crimes Of Grindelwald' attempted to remedy this by including Zoë Kravitz and William Nadylam as Leta Lestrange and Yusuf Kama. 'The Secrets Of Dumbledore' also added Jessica Williams Lally to the roster, finally adding a character of colour who had some charisma.
Rowling has been scrutinised in the past for not allowing people of colour to make much of an impact in her storytelling - a fact that remains clear while rewatching the 'Harry Potter' films. Of course, the West End version of Hermione in 'A Cursed Child' does feature a grown-up woman of colour in the role, which in and of itself faced backlash when announced. Some people just can't be pleased...
Finally, the casting of Johnny Depp was a choice that we're going to gloss over. But it was a decision that came back to bite the production.
We have absolutely nothing against our US counterparts across the water, but - hear us out - imagine a franchise that has zero connection to that side of the Atlantic? Correct us if we're wrong, but the US takes up enough of our cinema and TV screens to deem it necessary to ship Newt over there for just one movie.
There are plenty of other countries near the UK (ahem, we're right here) to explore - something that perhaps J.K. Rowling and co realised after movie number one. Follow-up 'The Crimes Of Grindelwald' was based in France, with 'The Secrets of Dumbledore' based in Germany. We understand that the Hungarian wizard - first played by Colin Farrell - was beginning to hatch his plan over in the States, but Newt has since left that part of the world behind (while the American characters keep reappearing).
The introduction of the Americas certainly dimmed the fun of what was previously an exciting coming-of-age series. The first 'Fantastic Beasts' brought along with it some new children and teenagers, but they were all too troubled to be likeable (Ezra Miller's Credence being the sole survivor - which is another problem we'll get to).
While the "beasts" of each location remain wonderful additions, they aren't very well explained nor do they bear a heavy enough presence to impact the storyline. Speaking of which...
The 'Fantastic Beasts' movies have so far felt like they are trying to tell two stories at once. On the one hand, we have Newt and his fantastic thirst for adventure, the explorer in his element as he happens upon new magical creatures from around the world. Sometimes, like in 'The Secrets Of Dubledore', they are an important part of the movie. Oftentimes, however, the beasts serve as a CGI distraction.
The problem is that these movies shouldn't be called 'Fantastic Beasts' at all. A more accurate title would have been "Gellert Grindelwald", because the franchise has, correct us if we're wrong, all hinged on whatever the dark wizard does next.
And so, on the other hand, we have the shoehorning of a 'Harry Potter' prequel series tacked onto the storyline of a magizoologist who, by the way, just so happens to become a main player in the uprising against an evil wizard. And all of those magical creatures he wrote about? He discovered them while fighting for the good guys.
The eight 'Harry Potter' films were based on a series of seven books, so they had the source material to work off of to explain the storyline in quite a straightforward manner: Lightening bolt boy's parents are murdered by old snake face man, boy wants to rid the world of this nefarious wizard, enlists his friends to help. Simple. The films were pretty much based on people knowing the source material and going from there (although some people haven't read the books and still enjoy the films).
These 'Fastastic Beasts' films, however, are based on one small guidebook used by Harry Potter and his friends in Hogwarts, written by the famed magizoologist. Essentially just a list of creatures from A-Z, it would have been so much more wonderful if the series closely followed Newt as he attempted to see the rarest of creatures, shipping himself off to perilously difficult-to-get-to locales, and explore the world in a way that was heartwarming and exciting. It could have been a two-part movie, full of wonder and magic the series is known for.
Instead, we get this storyline shunted into a secondary plot, while the war between Dumbledore and Grindelwald takes on the majority of the focus. This is not what we signed up for.
It's confusing, then, to watch these movies with that title in hand. J.K. Rowling is essentially free to do as she pleases in a world she's created, no matter how little sense it makes or how confusing the plot points become. McGonagall showing up as a teacher in Hogwarts in the 1920s when, according to the Pottermore website, she isn't born until 1935? Rowling is disregarding the very material she wrote in order to shoehorn in a fan-service footnote.
We're all for introducing a full set of brand new characters into the franchise, but when they're all adults... Shouldn't everything feel a bit more grown-up?
It's time that the Wizarding World franchise realised that all us 'Harry Potter' stans are now fully-fledged adults around the same age as the core cast from the eight original films - so shouldn't we get a series of films that refects that age? Oh sure, the 'Fantastic Beasts' films can continue to get "darker" as they continue, but why should they have to? The first entry should have been just that, full of Newt Scamander cursing and blinding at all these fantastical beasts, checking out the local talent while on a bender in each new location he visits (imagine!).
We really don't care for another childish adventure catered more towards the kids of the parents who have seen and read everything 'Potter' related for years.
A series following the exploits of Gellert Grindelwald as the main character would have been the perfect anti-hero franchise, especially off the back of having to endure eight films of goody-two-shoes Harry and his friends.
We don't really know where to start, but the 'Fantastic Beasts' franchise has been plagued with controversies from the get-go. We're not going to go too far into the various happenings attached to certain people, but when the spotlight is cast on them, it's hard to ignore.
Johnny Depp, J.K. Rowling and Ezra Miller have all been involved in varying levels of the media spotlight, none of them positive. Warner fired Depp for his ongoing allegations, filed by his ex-wife Amber Heard; while video evidence that emerged two years ago showed Miller appearing to grab a woman by her throat in a bar, and more recently he's been arrested twice in Hawaii for abusive conduct towards people.
Rowling has lost a lot of fans over the years, thanks mostly to her abrasive way of writing messages on Twitter. Her concern for the safety of females has been seen as anti-trans, something which could have been remedied should she have clarified her stance. However, due to her elite style of writing and her apparent need to belittle those who oppose her views, she has remained at the centre point of the TERF debacle. Even Vladimir Putin, making matters a whole lot worse for Rowling, dropped her name as someone he feels sorry for.
Warner Bros. still remain on the fence about whether or not to continue the 'Fantastic Beasts' franchise. Underwhelming box office performance coupled with extremely mixed reviews of the entire trilogy thus far could mean that the two planned sequels could be obliviated from production.
People who were once fans of the Wizarding World are beginning to boycott anything with Rowling's name attached. The underwhelming box office for 'The Secrets Of Dumbledore' could be down to this, with the film just about making its $200 million production cost back after two weeks in cinemas. The final 'Potter' movie 'Deathly Hallows Part 2', by comparison, made more than double that on its opening weekend alone.
Should 'Fantastic Beasts' fall by the waste side, there will of course still be other productions in the pipeline. HBO Max reportedly has a live-action TV series in the works, and we have no doubt that Rowling has ideas floating around in her head.
Whatever way you look at the Hippogriff, the Wizarding World is here to stay. But - will it be a success?