Harry Potter and the Cursed Child – John Tiffany and Jack Thorne (Script Review)

So I’ll start by saying this will contain spoilers, I honestly don’t know how to talk about this book without spoiling pretty much everything. You’ve been warned!download (6).jpg

If you’ve read any of my blogs before or if you’ve ever met me in real life, you’ll be aware that I’m Harry Potter mad and knowing I was counting down the days until the new book was released, won’t surprise you. If you’ve never read a blog and don’t know me then all I can tell you is that I love the Harry Potter series so much that I got a pair of glasses and a lightning bolt tattooed on me.

As soon as I found out Harry Potter and the Cursed Child would be released in book form, I jumped on Amazon and pre-ordered it. As soon as the book was posted through my door, I read it and I did so within a 24 hour time frame – something I haven’t done in a long time… Probably not since The Deathly Hallows was released.

So where do I start with my review other than gushing about how much I loved it? Well in case you didn’t know, The Cursed Child follows Harry’s middle son, Albus, as he embarks on his own adventures in Hogwarts. Albus soon realises that Hogwarts isn’t all that fun when you have Harry Potter, the greatest wizard of all time, as your father and living in his shadow is pretty hard.

Now, once again, if you haven’t read the books, you might want to stop reading. Some major spoilers are coming up.

I started crying at the very beginning, as the script picks up where the last book left off, I suddenly found myself overwhelmed with memories of how it felt to be reading the final Harry Potter book and that bit where Harry says ‘Albus Severus, you were named after two of Hogwart’s greatest headmasters’ (this may not be the actual quote, my copy of the book is currently packed up in a box somewhere) will forever make me cry.

Now I loved everything about this book, to start with the jobs that the adults have… Hermione as Minister of Magic? Yes please! If there’s a role Hermione was made for, it’s minister. She’s perfect for the role, she has seen how previous Ministers have coped with some of the worst events in history and she seems to have learned from their mistakes. I love that Ron is working for Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes, I’d previously read that he was an auror after Hogwarts and for me the job just never suited him. Although Ron is a great wizard, I love him being the slightly silly fun one of the group and a minsirty job just didn’t seem right to me. And of course Harry becomes head of magical law enforcement, he was always destined to be great and a mediocre job just wouldn’t have worked for him.

The star of the show (or script) has to be given to Scorpius Malfoy, after Albus is sorted into Slytherin, he becomes best friends with Scorpius who is just adorable. Scorpius has heard rumours that he is actually Voldemort’s son after a time turner has been used in order to ensure Voldemort produces an heir, now Scorpius isn’t sure what to think of these rumours and constantly worries they’re true. Along with this Scorpius is just a really lovely kid, he’s bullied for potentially being Voldemort’s child but he never seems angry at the other kids in school and he’s nothing but lovely to others around him.

Albus on the other hand, is sometimes pretty annoying. He resents his father for being so perfect and constantly seems angry. At first I didn’t like this and I got annoyed at Albus for not realising that his father was forced into being a hero but as I began to read, I began to understand Albus and I started to sympathise. I realised that he just wanted to live the same life that his father had, he wanted to show people that he could be just as great as his father but unfortunately he doesn’t seem to be very good at most magical things so he finds it harder than he hoped.

After overhearing a conversation between his father and Amos Diggory, Albus decides he will go back in time with the help of a time turner and he will try to save Cedric Diggory’s life. With the help of Scorpius, he goes back to the Triwizard Tournament and changes two things in the hope that Cedric will win and therefore will never touch the portkey that eventually leads to his death. I LOVED this aspect of the book, the two changes bring about two alternative realities, one where Ron and Hermione never quite get together and one where Voldemort wins the battle of Hogwarts. These brought up ideas that I had previously thought about. The idea of a reality where Voldemort had eventually won was really intriguing to me and I thought it was done incredibly well.

The book was pretty light and it felt very easy to read, after about forty pages I knew that I wouldn’t be putting the book down until I was finished and I was so glad that I took the time to read until the end. Overall, the book was pretty much just one big fan fic but who doesn’t love fan fic?

Five out of five stars without even a shadow of a doubt.

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Ghostbusters (2016) Review

Though there have been rumours of a new ‘Busters movie for years I never really thought it would happen.  When it was announced that a new movie was not actually happening, like really happening, but that the cast would be all women, I was really looking forward to it. Despite the poor first trailer I stuck by it and stuck up for it, largely on the basis that it was another Melissa McCartney/Kristen Wiig/Paul Feig vehicle. I’ve been a big fan of McCartney and Wiig since Bridesmaids and a fan of Feig ever since he helped Sabrina with science in Sabrina the Teenage Witch.

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As I’m sure you can imagine I was pretty excited when I finally got to see it at the cinema. We paid our money and purchased overprice yet oddly plastic tasting snacks and made our way into the cinema.

It’s at this point that I want to tell you that I had the single greatest cinema experience of my entire life. Sadly, as a purveyor of truth, I cannot.

I had heard from reliable sources that the opening sequence was awe inspiring and simply perfect, maybe it was these high expectations I felt like I was waiting for the life changing moment to begin. It revolves around a tour guide at a ‘haunted house’ that turns out to be really haunted. I’m not trying to say that it was bad, it was pretty good  actually and kinda creepy. I just wanted more from it, it didn’t blow me away.

Next we get introduced to Kristen Wiig’s character, Dr Erin Gilbert. A rather straight laced professor of physics who gets fired from here job at Columbia University. Consequently she has to visit her old schoolyard chum, Dr Abby Yates, an eccentric person who loves Chinese food, played by Melissa McCarthy. Unlike Erin, Abby did not give up on her search for ghosts and proof of life after death. In her search she recruited Dr Jillian Holtzman, (Kate McKinnen) who is pure eccentricity and my favourite of all the characters. The last ‘buster to be recruited is  Patty Tolan, a sassy black lady played by Leslie Jones.

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I must admit that my inner feminist loved seeing a group of four women doing some pretty kick ass moves, and investigating the various strange going on in New York without having a man to lead them in some way (it should come as no surprise that it passes the Bechdel test with flying colours) . The only man to really be a part of the gang is Chris Emsworth as Kevin Beckman, the well meaning, but somewhat simple and misguided secretary. I loved the role reversal of that character, and I must admit that Emsworth plays it brilliantly, often stealing the scene. I hope that this film helps to inspire young women and know that they too can be doctors of science and fight the bad guy without needing a man, and most importantly that she can be a complicated character that is worth so much more than window dressing for the men to stare at (Michael Bay, take note!)

That being said, the main plot involving a loner trying to bring about the end of New York with some kind of strange machines that bring ghosts out of… Ghost… world? failed to draw me in the way I would have liked. It works, I was interested as to what this strange chap was up to, and it kept my attention throughout, I never got bored. I just felt that the plot could sometimes be thrown out of the window in  favour of a neato set piece, and overall could have done with a bit of tightening. I felt at times as I was watching it that it needed more of a world building mythology, as we had with the original.

holtzmanThough the acting standard was good throughout, I felt that Wiig didn’t really give her all, she could have really sunk her teeth into the character and gone all out, and it fell just short of that, with McCartney occasionally joining her. Perhaps it was the requirement of a 12A (PG13 in America) certificate that meant their performances were toned down a little. Though it must be said, again, that it was really refreshing to have strong female characters with a complicated past and feelings. Holtzman was my favourite character, she was just the right amount of weird with a slight tinge of creepiness dashed in for good measure, she is the archetypal mad scientist and I loved her.

pattyThere are laughs to be had here, and I did titter throughout. for me though there were just not enough belly laughs, not enough smart insightful jokes peppered through to make me really think, it at times could be a little silly and puerile. Patty brings most of the good laughs and has some of the best lines. I did find Patty a little problematic at times, for a film full of individual women kicking ass, I felt that she could sometimes slip into a little of a black stereotype, luckily Jones brings lot of intelligence and brilliant humour to the character so they just about get away with it. If there were to be a sequel, I would like there to be a little more development of Patty.

One thing that was no lacking are the effects, they are perfect and manage to bring about a creepy and grossness without going too overboard. I also really liked how they seemed to invoke the style of the original, but they have taken it and improved upon it to make some truly stunning scenes. The end scenes where all hell breaks loose are so well done and the proton beams really look amazing.

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There are many references to the original, some that work well, like the effects, and others not so well. I’m sure others may disagree, but I felt that some certain cameos did not work for me. In a film about kick ass women these moments almost felt like they were getting permission from the men to make this movie, permission they do not need. The film works best when it stands on it’s own two feet and travels down it’s own path, to create something new and original, not just raking over old ground they desperately need to get away from.

This reboot of the Ghostbusters franchise has courted controversy from the moment it was announced, there has been a tirade of abuse from online trolls and misogynists who are under the misguided impression that women are incapable of being Ghostbusters. Whilst I do not believe this to  be a perfect film, I am pleased to say that it at least manages to put those notions to bed.

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The plot needed to be a little tighter, the comedy needed to be funnier and there needs to be less references to the 1984 classic.There are still great things here, the characters are kick ass, intelligent, individual and not dressed up in ridiculous, impracticable outfits, the effects are brilliant and you’ll have a rip roaring good time. It might not have blown me away the way I would have liked, but I still had a good time and you will too.

★★★☆☆