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TERFtastic Beasts - The Secrets of Dumblejude
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• Posted by: Bernhard H. Heidkamp   <Send E-Mail>
• Date: Friday, April 8, 2022, at 2:38 a.m.
• IP Address:


Yes, I am still alive and pretty well smile

Despite my deep hatred for anything associated with a certain transphobic author, my love for James Newton Howard compelled me to listen to the freshly released third score in the prequel series to this one magic franchise everyone should just forget about, so the creator of said franchise can die in a pit.

Listened to the album just now and was delighted at first....almost 2 hours? Holy shit, yes please! Then it already starts out with an ostinato-ed version of the infamously underutilized main theme? Even more yes please!

However...overall, I think this might be the most disappointing of the 3. The first one disappointed me as well as first, due to the scattershot thematic ground work

quick recap of the others: The title card introduced a motif that was gone almost instantly, then we got a main theme, that went away after the first third of the movie just so the last third of the movie could give us another theme, introduced as a love theme, but then warped into yet a third main theme?) but the overall abundance of wonderful themes, no matter their application and development, as well as the brilliant orchestra-work made up for it.

The second one dialed down the excitement and warmth of the first entry, but did some great things with the more darker tone of the movie and somehow managed to underscore the unholy amount of boring, dialogue-drive exposition scenes with engaging suspense music while bringing the actual main theme more into the spotlight. It also tidied up the confusing thematic structure and introduced 3 great new themes (one for DUmblejude, one for Leta and that eerie choir motif that might be for Grindeldepp, but who knows anyway?)

So, now the third one. The disappointment this time comes from the very scarce references of known themes as well as the lack of new ones. Newt, you know, the guy that was once supposed to be our main character (Bilbo nods sympathetically in the corner) had two themes in the first film, one got thrown out in the second one and the remaining hero motif gets like...2 moments in this third one. Then we have know, the guy in the frikking title. He got a wonderfully warm and wholesome theme in the last one and it's repised...exactly one time in the last fucking cue.

My beloved main theme? Has 3 or 4 statements, but only one or 2 are actually clear. The others are a bit deconstructed, which, granted, does speak to JNH's compositional abilities and makes it far more exciting than just needledropping it verbatim like he used to do in other franchises (moments from THE HUNTSMAN WINTER'S WAR or basically all of HUNGER GAMES comes to mind) but it's sad that this great theme is so buried and that this franchise still has no clear overarching musical identity.

The love theme from Newt and Tina (who is, AFAIK basically gone from the movie, either because of Covid issues or because the actress actually called the writer out on her transphobic bullshit, the reports are conflicting) is reprised once in the last cue and


*****it's for the wedding of the other******


Some of the love motifs (I think they have 3 at this point) for Jacob and Queenie reappears and it's indeed lovely.

However, Jacob's theme (despite continously edited out in the actual first two films) reappears. JNH keeps trying to make it happen and I am grateful for it, as he even quotes the ragtime one in two cues! That's wonderful!

The eerie Grindeldepp choir comes back as well, this time for Grindelmads, and the choir actually seems to be chanting words this time, so there is a kind of thematic development in there, neat stuff smile

Howard also references his "Blood Pact" motif and of course the b-Section from Hedwig's Theme (inofficially known as the Hogwarts-theme by now, I think) and some of the Credence stuff (though not the one with the viola gamba).

Regarding new themes...I couldn't make out any. I think there are 2 new little motifs, but they are very subdued and don't seem to actually represent anything. A lot of the score if very "fillerish". And it's not bad at all. It's lovely JNH-stuff with his signature orchestrations. It's the kind of fantasy music I LOOOVE from him and there is a neat little thing hidden in almost each of them: A sweet little flute movement there, a gorgeous bar of string writing here, some cool synthetic toys in other ones.
But due to the fact that it rarely references any themes, be it from the first two or from this one, they blend together easily.

This doesn't make it a bad score at all. I'm a JNH fanboy, I love exactly THIS kind of JNH and I am sure furhter listens will reveal a whole lot of secret highlights that flew under my radar. I mean, when I first listened to MALEFICENT I didn't pick up on anything and now I can hum a bazillion themes from it in a millisecond. So maybe my assessment is totally wrong and I am missing a hudnred themes and references.

However, as of now, I am slightly disappointed. It's a great score and were it the first of a franchise I would praise it, but this was preceded by two of my favourite scores of the last decade so my expecations were high.

Also this time, we don't get any kind of suites or piano solos. I loved these goodies from the last two. Instead we get some lame pop-song I stopped after 60 seconds.

I want to reiterate that I do not dislike this score in any way! I will listen to it a lot and gobble up every hidden detail I can. I just wanted 10 stars instead of 9 (not my actual rating, just a quick visual).

What do you think?

And how are you guys?

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