BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — There’s no disputing “Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore” features an extremely talented cast that ranges from the innocent charm Eddie Redmayne brings to the role of Newt Scamander to the way Jude Law so easily exudes wisdom and confidence as Professor Albus Dumbledore. The work of this skilled group of performers is enough to give the latest film in the Wizarding World created by J.K. Rowling a solid base.

But wait. There’s more. The film is also thoroughly saturated with special effects that include massively large scale items such as ancient cities to something as simple as a room filled with floating teacups.

Director David Yates – who has directed every film in the “Fantastic Beasts” franchise and four of the “Harry Potter” movies – continues to create spectacular images in almost every frame of the franchise. If there is a coffee table book of the film created using frames of the movie, be sure to buy it.

If only Yates had spent as much time on the story as he did with his obsessive attention to special effects details, “The Secrets of Dumbledore” would not be so lacking. The combination of this film having to continue the storyline from the previous production with a plot point that embraces chaos over planning creates a writing black hole where the story fails to have any real magic. Where the “Harry Potter” movies built with each offering, this franchise seems to be getting more complacent.

Newt and a ragtag handful of friends are enlisted by Dumbledore to stop the powerful Dark wizard Gellert Grindelwald (Mads Mikkelsen) from taking over as the supreme commander of the wizarding world.  The major problem the team of wizards, witches and a Muggle face in taking on the fight is that Grindelwald has the power to see glimpses of the future.

The plan – and the chief cause for the script problems – is that the group decides the only way to stop the evil wizard is to not have a plan. The logic works but not the execution. The lack of planning for the screenplay by J.K. Rowling and Steve Kloves result in far too many moments where there feels like inane fillers are being used to plug up the gaping plot holes.  A painfully long wiggle dance by Redmayne is both a time killer and totally out of place in this dark tale of good vs. evil.

Despite the fact the movie promises to offer up secrets of Dumbledore, there are only a few surprising moments. Having him set out big chunks of the movie is counterproductive to a production that suggests this will be the big moment for the character introduced more than two decades ago.

Another big problem is the replacement of Johnny Depp who portrayed Grindelwald in the second movie, “Fantastic Beasts: the Crimes of Grindelwald.” It is not the fact Depp was replaced because directors have the right to cast anyone they want for a role.

The problem is the complete change in tone of how the evil wizard is played by the two actors. Depp portrayed Grindelwald as being pure evil but with enough charm and flair to make it understandable he could influence an army of followers to join him.

Mikkelsen focuses on the pure evil aspect and his complete lack of charm and flair turns the once very impressive villain into a stereotypical bad guy. He is good at playing bad as shown in “Hannibal” and “Doctor Strange” but in this case the direction Mikkelsen and Yates have selected is wrong for what fans have come to expect.

It would be like replacing Law with Steve Martin as Dumbledore. Both are good actors but there is no way the two performances would be complementary.

This is the third film in what is scheduled to be a five-part series. The previous films include “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” in 2016 and “Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald” in 2018. There are a few elements that suggest in the latest production that there is more tale to be told but if this ended up being the last in the franchise, “The Secrets of Dumbledore” has enough of a soft finale that could excuse a lack of the fourth and fifth movies.

There are enough good performances and special effects to save “The Secrets of Dumbledore.” It is sad to see that one of the secrets of the franchise is in desperate need of some serious writing help.

Movie review

Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore

2 1/2 stars

Cast: Eddie Redmayne, Jude Law, Ezra Miller, Dan Fogler, Alison Sudol, Katherine Waterston, Aleksandr Kuznetsov, Mads Mikkelsen.

Director: David Yates

Rated: PG-13 fantasy violence, action

Running time: 142 minutes.