While I wouldn’t necessarily call it easy, the role of a movie reviewer is a simple one. We’re supposed to give each release our entire focus and attention, be honest to our experience of it and attempt to have a meaningful conversation around it. It’s also on us to give every movie a chance. You have to sit in that dark theatre every week and sincerely believe that any film could change your life. (Also read: Flash star Ezra Miller's DC future has reportedly been put 'on pause' by Warner Bros after his arrest)

But some movies make it tough. Some franchises, like the Fantastic Beasts movies, make it challenging to hold onto that cautious optimism. There’s already so much going against the tired, unnecessary, stretched-beyond-its-limits franchise, that it’s difficult not to be jaded before even a single frame flickers to life.

While I’ll admit I only have fond memories of the first movie which allowed us to revisit the Wizarding World that many of us hold so dear and gave us a fresh crop of genuinely endearing characters. Not unlike the Hobbit movies, there’s an honesty and integrity to these ‘first movies’. They feel like they come from a place of love for the world they set out to revisit. But it’s an honesty that dwindles and dissipates in their follow-ups, where a single movie’s story and characters get stretched beyond their limits, forced into trilogies they don’t need or earn.

In this case, the second instalment - Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Meandering Storytelling And Spectacular Miscasting Grindelwald -was a terrible fever dream of a movie. All I could remember about it before going into this third (and hopefully final) one, was that there was something about a strained brother-sister equation that I couldn't for the life of me follow or feel for. So desperate was the franchise, in fact, that they literally invented a Dumbledore. The grand revelation of the second movie was that Ezra Miller’s Credence was secretly a Dumbledore nobody knew about (who somehow ended up in Queens New York...)

Like most characters in this franchise, Credence had real impact and weight in the first film (the idea of an Obscurus and the dangers of repressing one’s identity remains a wonderful metaphor). But there was no need to have him be force-fit and recycled into the follow-up installments.

This messily brings us to Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets Of Dumbledore - a poorly crafted, woefully disjointed, joyless slog of a third film (literally everyone is sad in this movie) that becomes increasingly pointless as it goes on. The Secrets Of Dumbledore follows the rising right-wing influence of dark wizard Gelert Grindelwald (previously Johnny Depp, now Mads Mikkelsen--this series is quickly becoming one of the most cancelled franchises, first Rowling, then Depp now Ezra Miller).

As he does with all dark wizards whose rise to power he himself is responsible for, a young Dumbledore takes it upon himself to bring Grindelwald down. (An earnest yet painfully miscast Jude Law #NotMyDumbledore, does his best in bringing to life Dumbledore: The Early Years, here armed with a distracting Cornish tinge in his accent.) But, as a result of a foolish decision born of young love, Dumbledore and Grindelwald can’t directly move against one another due to a Blood Troth - a magical oath of sorts that means setting out to harm the other would cost you your own life. It’s both an interesting narrative device and the wizarding equivalent of a regrettable young love tattoo. (They repeatedly and hearteningly make it clear that Dumbledore is canonically gay).

To bring down his evil ex, Dumbledore assembles his own ragtag team of Auror-Avengers led of course by Newt Scamander (the always endearing Eddie Redmayne who’s Newt deserves a better movie considering this one seems to keep forgetting he’s the lead). Joining Newt is his assistant Bunty (Victoria Yeates) who he’s apparently had for seven years (?) though I have no memory of her whatsoever. There’s also Professor Hicks (Jessica Williams whose distracting sassy 70s accent makes it near impossible to take her seriously). There’s also Newt’s muggle friend Jacob Kowalski from the first two films (the lovable Dan Fogler) who's asked to join them on this dangerous mission despite him having no discernible skills or real use. There’s also Newt’s brother Theseus (Callum Turner treading the fine line between stoic and expressionless). I couldn’t quite understand what purpose Theseus served in the movie. The hero wasn’t interesting enough so you brought in his eye candy muscle-y brother?

With the team in place, things get real Magical Mission Impossible, with Dumbledore sending them on Grindelwald-thwarting missions around the world from Berlin to Bhutan. I say thwarting, but for the most part, our heroes just seem to end up in the same room as Grindelwald at various uncomfortable functions and dinners where the good guys and bad guys just seem to give each other daggers. It’s just a very strange movie.

What’s left to say, then? I could talk about the bland, lifeless visuals (the Wizarding World never looked so washed out and colourless). I could talk about the numerous blurry, disorienting CGI magical duels (were wizard duels in the Harry Potter movies always this dull?). I could tell you that you barely feel Grindelwald's Hitler-like campaign (he’s minimally threatening and unlike Voldemort, you hardly get a sense of his rising influence and the fear it brings). I could tell you the movie’s structure and rhythm are off. The whole thing feels like one long slow-burn buildup in a movie that’s somehow both too rushed and too slow. I could say that individual scenes don't organically lead into each other and sequences seem unsure about where to end. Or then there’s that impressively bizarre climax involving a weird public election and a magical Bambi-looking creature that’s supposed to pick the next great Wizarding leader.

But at this stage, with this franchise all you’d hope is that at the very least, it works as a I-don't-care-about-the-story-just-give-us-cool-magical-action blockbuster. Barely. The fundamental issue with the DNA of the Fantastic Beasts movies is how they try to interweave its two strands. On the one hand, you have the Newt Scamander story, the kind-hearted magizoologist who just wants to care for magical creatures who gets caught up in one adventure or another. On the other, you have the intriguing Dumbledore-Grindelwald backstory as set out in the final Harry Potter book. The second and third movies’ attempts to cram these two together is where it loses all sense of coherence and substance. At this point, it's sort of baffling that this franchise is directed by the same David Yates who helmed the final four Harry Potter movies. The dude must just be coasting through these on autopilot by now.

20 years ago saw the beginnings of one of the most enchanting good vs evil stories ever seen on screen. The Harry Potter series did a lot more than just touch hearts. It made us believe in magic. With the Fantastic Beasts franchise, it would appear that the magic is now spent.