The Secrets of Dumbledore is the latest in the Fantastic Beasts franchise which serves as a prequel to the Harry Potter series. Much of the lore contained in the Fantastic Beasts franchise can be found in the Harry Potter book series and the screenplays have been created by and adapted from the works of J.K. Rowling. So the films truly feel like an extension of the original beloved story.
Critics were actually very hard on this film and I suspect it’s because J.K. Rowling has been recently canceled by the left for believing in the factual existence of women.
But are The Secrets of Dumbledore worth learning about? The Conservative Critics asks: Is it entertaining? Does it have artistic/intellectual value? And is it liberal propaganda?
The Conservative Critic Meter Check: The Secrets of Dumbledore
Overall rating: Great
J.K. Rowling’s Wizarding World including the fabled Harry Potter franchise and the Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them franchise is consistent in its high quality and fun for all ages. Whether its the book series, the original film franchise or the new series including The Secrets of Dumbledore, it’s hard to go wrong.
The Secrets of Dumbledore is no exception. The third installment of Fantastic Beasts combines political drama, action, comedy, love, nostalgia, humor and cute critters into a jam-packed adventure across the globe where anything is possible.
The film isn’t perfect, there are some slow moments, a bit of a confusing plotline (complete with some plot holes) and quite a bit of liberalism. But overall, the film is better than its predecessor in the Fantastic Beasts trilogy and stands up to the high caliber of the overall Wizarding World experience.
Is it entertaining?
Rating: Magic fun
The film starts out a little slow, spending quite a bit of time establishing new characters and the set-up for the plot about to unfold. However, it pays off because the new characters are some of the most fun additions to the story.
Once it gets rolling, viewers are treated to equal parts intense action and black magic and whimsical antics. The sprawling 2 hours and 22 minute film takes place in several different countries and even continents and lets itself breathe with plenty of jokes, side stories and set ups for even more wizard movies to come.
Despite the slow start, the film takes viewers away with ease and becomes the escapist dream it’s designed to be.
Does it have intellectual/artistic value?
Rating: Expensive in a good way
Everything about the film seems expensive from the star-studded and award winning cast to the impressive and lauded special effects and graphics. As always, the franchise’s interpretation of magic is spot-on and stylistically appealing. It manages to seem equal parts menacing and beautiful where even the dark magic has a level of visual poetry and grace.
The performances hit above weight for a pre-teen escapist franchise. Academy Award winner Eddie Redmayne (The Theory of Everything) transforms into the idiosyncratic and gentle Newt Scamander and Jude Law (The New Pope) brings something very special to the iconic Albus Dumbledore character. Dan Fogler (The Walking Dead) returns as Jacob Kowalski the non-magical American baker from Queens and grounds the film in heart, humor and a relatable sense of reality.
The stand out performance of the film is Jessica Williams (Love Life) who is basically new to the franchise as Professor Lally Hicks (her character had a much smaller part in the last film). Williams absolutely steals the screen with her charisma, charm and a truly vibrant performance which brought a ton of warmth and life to a franchise which sometimes gets a bit gloomy. The addition of her character as a lead feels a lot more like the original Harry Potter series.
Unfortunately in a few places the plot seems a little convoluted and a tad bit confusing. Some of the explanations for the events in the film have to be verbalized by the characters to fully explain to the viewer why a rule is broken or a situation is changed. As always, if a character has to explain the plot to the viewer it probably wasn’t written well enough. Even though it plays pretty well, there are a lot of spaces that feel like they were written for the sole purpose of creating more content for the series to ride out as far as Warner Brothers can take it.
Is it liberal propaganda?
Rating: Wizards can be liberal too
There is nothing inherently liberal about The Secrets of Dumbledore. But there are some values issues that make it the worst kind of progressive propaganda which is to say: sneaky.
One of my biggest issues from a conservative point of view with the entire Wizarding World is the assignment of absolute moral infallibility to professors of an elite private school. In the exploration of Professor Albus Dumbledore himself (headmaster of Hogwarts school), the ivory tower becomes even taller. Dumbledore is presented as an absolute infallible moral arbiter and his gang of like minded professors are all considered without question to be the purveyors of what is fair, true and just.
Do films often present their heroes as infallible? Yes; so perhaps the criticism is unfair. But something about the way they present the intellectual elite as the true persons of reason gets under my skin from a conservative point of view. And I have a masters degree so it’s not about the education itself. It’s about the idea that certain kinds of people are superior to others. Which is ironic because the film tackles that idea in otherways (magic versus non-magic persons).
Additionally there is a political drama unfolding as a central plot point and the heroes of the story advocate, righteously to hamper democracy by keeping a controversial candidate out of the race. Granted, in the story, the character trying to run for office is a murderer but even though viewers saw the murders we aren’t made privy to the investigation and whether it was conclusive or inconclusive in terms of Wizard world justice. What viewers saw, not all of the wizard justice system saw. And if the will of the people is to support a bad man is it not the right of the people to make that choice? Do the wizards not have faith in their own kind to vote for the candidates with integrity? The bad character goes on to basically rig the election which is of course bad and wrong but the action of his rigging the election should be the focus of what was wrong not the fact of his ability to run as a candidate.
Further, the film’s titular character, Albus Dumbledore, is a gay man who was once in love with the film’s main villain (Grindlewald). As filmed and written, the love story is complex and interesting and distant from any of the strange and shoehorned progressive takes on “identity” we see in other media. Warner Brothers made the decision to cut this plotline out of the film entirely in order to appease the Chinese government. The hypocrisy of censoring references to homosexuality to appease a tyrannical Communist Party ideology while simultaneously aiding Hollywood in their attacks on Florida’s parental rights bill is astounding and liberalism at its finest.